Robert Refsnyder Vying to Become Starting 2nd Baseman

by STEVE HAN | @steve_han

After losing six-time All-Star Robinson Cano via free agency, the New York Yankees were forced to settle for mediocrity at second base last season. Stephen Drew, who finished the season as the Yankees’ starting second baseman, hit an abysmal .150 since for the team. Nevertheless, the Yankees couldn’t find a viable replacement at second base during the offseason and ended up re-signing Drew on a one-year deal. If Drew does not improve drastically, though, the team could easily cut him.

This is one of the reasons why Yankees top-rated prospect Robert Refsnyder could provide a long-term solution for manager Joe Girardi’s longstanding struggle to fill the void left by Cano’s departure from a year ago. The 23-year-old, Korean-born Refsnyder has impressed the Yankees organization with his robust production in the minor leagues over the last three years.

Last season, Refsnyder combined a batting average of .318 with 14 home runs and 58 extra base hits for the Yankees’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates. While the outfielder-turned-second baseman’s defense still remains suspect, he committed just 12 errors last season compared to 25 in 2013.

“In half a year he had nine errors in Double-A and in in the second half, in Triple-A, he only had three. So there’s obviously a lot of improvement there. And I think that’s what we’re looking to see,” Yankees manager Girardi told “This is a young man that played right field in college. Very excited about his bat and his ability to get on base and do some things.”

The Yankees dealt Martin Prado, a utility infielder, to the Miami Marlins during the offeseason. Left only with Drew and a pair of unproven infielders in Didi Gregorius and Jose Pirela, Girardi invited Refsnyder to the Yankees’ camp for spring training, which begins in about two weeks in Tampa, Florida, where he will be given ample opportunities to make the Yankees’ 25-man roster for opening day in April.

“He has a chance to be a regular offensive second baseman,” said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. “I can’t tell you he’s not major-league ready just yet. The bottom line is, he’ll go into camp, and he’ll compete, and he’ll have a chance to potentially earn a spot on the roster.”

Born in Seoul with the birth name Kim Jung-tae, Refsnyder was adopted by Caucasian parents when he was about 3 months old. He was drafted by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft. He was a standout outfielder for the University of Arizona, where he hit .476 to lead his school to a College World Series title in 2012.

Refnsyder grew up in Laguna Hills, Calif. where he was a fan of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.


To read KoreAm Journal’s feature on Robert Refsnyder from our August 2012 issue click here.

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