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May 2013 Prospect Profile: Rob Refsnyder

05/31/2013 9:47 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Rob Refsnyder was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2012 College World Series.(MiLB.com)
Roughly one calendar year ago, Rob Refsnyder was in the midst of what may have been his best month ever; after hitting .352 with six homers, 62 RBI, and 15 steals for the University of Arizona, the South Korea-born, California-bred junior outfielder was about to go on a run that saw him hit .476 in the College World Series en route to winning the Most Outstanding Player Award, cap his career with a CWS title, and end up as the fifth-round draft selection of the most storied franchise in baseball.

And then, the bottom fell out.

Refsnyder signed with the Yankees and bypassed the short-season circuit, reporting straight to Class-A Charleston, but he hit just .241 in 46 games as the RiverDogs’ right fielder.

"After the College World Series, where every pitch is so important, I was dog tired," Refsnyder told MiLB.com’s Guy Curtright earlier this year. "I was emotionally and physically drained."

After an off-season that included some much needed rest and a position switch to second base, Refsnyder returned to Charleston and got off to a torrid start, hitting .370 in 13 games; that surge, combined with the slew of injuries in Tampa, earned him a promotion to the Florida State League, and he hasn’t stopped hitting.

Through June 9, Refsnyder had played 46 games with the Tampa Yankees, hitting .289 with two homers and 21 RBI; he started that run with a 12-game hitting streak – one that, combined with his last five games in Charleston, actually reached 17 games total – and has recorded multiple hits in more than a third of his 59 total games played between the two levels.

And yet, he’s still not gaining much publicity, snubbed for an FSL All-Star berth and not really noticed in the system, even now while playing a position that could be vitally important in the near future if Robinson Cano isn’t re-signed by the Yankees – but that’s quite alright by the 22-year-old.

"I've always kind of been overlooked," Refsnyder told Curtright. "That's what drives me."

Second base is a new position for Refsnyder, as he played right field in college but was drafted with the conversion in mind. It’s still a work in progress, as he has 15 errors in 38 total games at second this year, but the transition is an exciting one according to Refsnyder.

"I must have taken a million ground balls, but I'm still a work in progress," Refsnyder told Curtright. "I'm still trying to get my arm angle right. I could play the outfield with my eyes closed. This is all new, but it is fun learning a new position, and I'm getting better."

And so, he’ll likely spend the majority of the summer under the command of Luis Sojo – himself a pretty slick-fielding middle infielder in his day – in Tampa, learning the ins and outs of the right side of the keystone combo and watching from afar the man he hopes to one day succeed in the Bronx.

“The Yankees have the greatest second baseman in the world," Refsnyder said of Cano. "I love watching him play as much as anyone."

Given how Cano was overlooked at times on his way up – including a snub that saw the Texas Rangers choose to take Joaquin Arias over him in the trade that brought Alex Rodriguez to New York – it seems like Refsnyder may just be in the perfect position after all.

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