by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessr)
Over the weekend the Yankees summoned Rob Refsnyder from Triple-A, where he had been hitting .290 with 7 HR, 37 RBI, 45 R and 10 SB over 310 AB. They are impressive numbers, putting him right on pace for nearly a 20/20 campaign. That obviously should put him immediately on all fantasy maps, especially with the Yankees having a gaping hole at second base (it’s time to move on from Stephen Drew, don’t you think).
The question is, just how good can he be? For instance, one of the popular waiver wire targets early in the year was the Blue Jays’ Devon Travis. Is Refsnyder a better option? On par? Travis doesn’t have much time spent at Triple-A, so the comparison isn’t going to be perfect, but it’s a fair one nonetheless.
Travis hit .298 at Double-A last season, courtesy of a 13.6% strikeout rate and .327 BABIP. Refsnyder showed a little bit more strikeout in his game last season, with a 15.6% mark at Double-A and seeing it balloon to 20.1% at Triple-A. However he dropped that number to 12.1% this season. Refsnyder has also shown a better control of the strike zone, with a 12.1% walk rate at Triple-A this season (Travis, meanwhile, was at 8.4% at Double-A).
While you can argue that Refsnyder may not be a consistent .300+ hitter, there’s more than enough there to think that he can hit .280-.290 or better (especially with the benefits of Yankee Stadium, which we will get to shortly). In other words, he should be right on par with Travis (who should see his .301 average drop, given his .340 BABIP).
Travis had hit 10 HR at Double-A last season, courtesy of a 10.5% HR/OFB. Refsnyder hit 14 HR, courtesy of a 12.3% HR/OFB. Seems pretty close, doesn’t it? Playing in Yankee Stadium could easily help Refsnyder continue to develop some power, especially given the extra base propensity he’s shown. Remember he had 37 doubles and 7 triples last season, and some of those can easily turn into a few more home runs given his new comfy confines (Travis had 20 doubles and 7 triples last season).
Refsnyder is not a burner, which is where Travis could have an advantage, but he’s made the most of what he has. He did steal 23 bases back in 2013, and if he’s hitting at the bottom of the Yankees’ lineup could get a few opportunities to run.
Interestingly, Travis hasn’t been given many chances to steal bases this season (2 SB in 3 attempts), so the advantage may actually not be there. Could Refsnyder be given a few extra chances to run? It’s not unthinkable.
Travis was all the rage early, but when we look at the numbers Refsnyder could easily be his equal (or even better). The question with Refsnyder as always been his defense, not his bat. Rich Wilson of Prospect 361 labeled him as having the upside of Matt Carpenter prior to the season ssaying:
“Refsnyder can really hit with a beautiful right handed swing. He has great plate coverage with excellent strike zone awareness that should allow him to hit .300 at the highest level. While the swing has very little leverage, there is bat speed with the hope that he can eventually hit 12 to 15 home runs. With average foot speed, he could also steal 8 to 10 stolen bases.”
To me, that sounds more like Kolten Wong, with a little less speed. In other words all signs point to a very good fantasy option. It’s possible the Yankees do acquire a 2B alternative prior to the deadline, but Refsnyder is being given an opportunity to claim the job for himself before they go that route. Grab him now in case he runs with it.
Sources – Fangraphs, Minor League Central, Prospect 361