MLB.com is running an interesting program this offseason. In addition to the more traditional top 100 prospects and the team-by-team assessments, they're ranking the top ten players at each position throughout the minor leagues. If you have't seen it yet, I encourage you to check it out.
There are bunch of Yankees on the list: Luis Severino is listed among the top ten right-handed pitchers, Greg Bird ranked 3rd among first basemen, and Gary Sanchez is not among the catchers (a clear sign of just how far his stock has fallen since he's already earned 130 ABs in Trenton at only 21 years old).
It's instructive to see how position breakdowns impact a list like this. Greg Bird, while he is an exciting player in the Yankees' system and likely to make a big league impact soon, would make very few top 100 prospect lists because he is limited defensively. A first base minor league prospect has to hit a ton to make up for the fact that he's already a first baseman. When you look around the league, you're reminded that Mark Teixeira came up playing third, as did Miguel Cabrera and Edwin Encarncion and Albert Pujols. Carlos Santana and Joe Mauer were catchers (though at opposite ends of the defensive spectrum). Brandon Moss has played more outfield than first, and even Billy Butler, James Loney and Eric Hosmer have gotten at least a little time in the outfield.
It's useful to remember, while we can acknowledge Refsnyder's limits (or else he'd be playing shortstop in Triple-A), he plays at least well enough to deserve more time to develop. MLB.com ranks Refsnyder the #7 second baseman in the minors. If you've been hanging around Pinstripe Alley this offseason, then much of what's there will be familiar:
[Refsnyder] has established himself as the best pure hitter in New York's system, leading Yankees farmhands with a .318 average, 38 doubles and 256 total bases in 2014. His ability to recognize pitches and control the strike zone translates into consistent line drives to all fields.
He has made progress [as a second baseman] but still struggles with his footwork and probably won't become more than an adequate defender.
Refsnyder's big league dreams truly hang on his ability to become an adequate defender at second base. While I could see him falling back into the outfield if he can't cut it at second (remember Refsnyder was an outfielder in college), without the dynamic speed that earns a Brett Gardner-type player a good long look, Refsnyder simply doesn't have the power to avoid getting slotted into a fourth outfielder role and missing his chance.
I hope Refsnyder gets a shot this season. I'm not surprised he's likely to start the year back in Scranton; he's not on the 40-man roster yet, and he's played fewer than 80 games in Triple-A. There's still plenty for him to learn at that level. That said, if he continues to hit the way he did in 2014, and if the Yankees' offense struggles like I expect it to, the kid will get his chance yet.