clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What do the Yankees do with defensively-challenged prospects?

New, comments

Guys like Gary Sanchez, Eric Jagielo, and Rob Refsnyder have really had trouble on the defensive side of the ball this season. What do the Yankees do with them?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees prospect pool isn't the best in baseball, but it's certainly not the worst. Guys like Aaron Judge and Luis Severino top the list for the Yankees, but they have other good pieces too, like Rob Refsnyder, Gary Sanchez, and Eric Jagielo. However, all three of those prospects have really struggled defensively for their respective teams. What should the organization do with them?

Let's start with the #5 Yankees prospect on MLB.com, Rob Refsnyder. Pretty much every Yankees fan is tired of Stephen Drew at this point. In his first 201 plate appearances of the season, Drew's slash line is .169/.230/.361, with a wRC+ of 60. Granted, Drew's BABIP is down at .157, so the Yankees could wait for some regression, but the fact is that Drew is just horrible offensively. However, Drew is very good defensively, and he can play second base, third base, and shortstop. Drew has committed four errors in 202 total chances, which is good for a fielding percentage of .980.

Some fans have argued that Refsnyder should be called up to play second base, as he is as good with the bat as Drew is with the glove. In 251 plate appearances, Refsnyder is slashing .284/.360/.396 with a wRC+ of 122. It's easy to see the offensive difference between Drew and Refsnyder, and it's pretty easy to see the defensive difference too. This season, in 291 total chances, Refsnyder has 12 errors, yielding a fielding percentage of .959. Defense has always been the problem for Refsnyder, as even GM Brian Cashman has said that defense is the only thing keeping Refsnyder in the minors. Earlier this season, the Yankees were rumored to be interested in Braves' second base prospect Jose Peraza. This had Yankees fans worried, as some feared that the Yankees had given up on Refsnyder. Luckily for him, the Yankees didn't get Peraza, and Refsnyder is still the top second base prospect. If Refsnyder can work out his defensive troubles, he could see the major leagues sooner rather than later. That is, if the Yankees don't look at him as trade bait.

Another farmhand, sometimes forgotten, is Eric Jagielo, ranked at #8 in the organization. Jagielo is known for his power bat. In 238 plate appearances, Jagielo slashed .288/.353/.500 with a wRC+ of 141. Jagielo is top 10 in the Eastern League in SLG% and OPS (.853). Offense certainly isn't the problem for Jagielo, but his defense needs a lot of work. Jagielo had nine errors in 73 total chances at third base, giving him a fielding percentage of only .878, and the scouts agree that he seems rocky a. Due to his struggles at the hot corner, the Thunder decided to move him to first base for three games, where, in 29 total chances, Jagielo committed one error. While some scouts have praised Jagielo as a future third baseman, other scouts have said that he doesn't have the skill needed to play third base. Come the trade deadline, Jagielo could be a key player to watch, as MLB.com has third baseman Miguel Andujar as the #11 Yankee prospect, and some believe that he's the future at third base for the Yankees.

One of the best Yankees prospects in the system (#7 on MLB.com) is another one that may not have a future at his current position. Gary Sanchez, just 22 years old, has had his maturity questioned the past. But this season, he has answered plenty of these questions with his play. Still, questions remain around his defense. In 383 total chances at catcher, Sanchez has committed eight errors, and has allowed one passed ball. Sanchez has a great arm, but scouts believe that his future is going to be either at first base or at designated hitter. On the offensive side, Sanchez is doing well, slashing .256/.313/.432 with a wRC+ of 112. Like Jagielo, Sanchez should be another name to watch come the trade deadline, as he's still a valuable prospect for any team to have. Maybe the Yankees could use Sanchez as trade bait to try and get a pitcher like Scott Kazmir?

The Yankees have great offensive prospects, like Aaron Judge, Greg Bird, Refsnyder, and Jagielo. Sometimes, a player's sub-par defense can be overlooked if their offensive production is great. When it comes to Refsnyder, Sanchez, and Jagielo, if you were Brian Cashman, would you let the three work out their defensive struggles, or do you use them as trade bait?