Rob Refsnyder is entering his sixth season as a member of the Yankees’ organization, but his future with the ballclub is as uncertain as it’s ever been.
With the likes of Aaron Judge, Luis Severino and Tyler Austin fighting for 25-man roster spots, Refsnyder remains in limbo, wondering how his moment to flourish flashed before his eyes last season.
“I don’t know where I fit on the roster,” Refsnyder told Dan Martin of the New York Post on Sunday at the team’s minor league complex. “We’ll see what happens. I’m going about my business and try to improve my game because I wasn’t happy with the way I played last year at all. On the offensive side, I felt like it was the bare minimum I could have contributed. I want to do a lot more.”
In the midst of the 2015 season with Triple-A, Refsnyder hit .271 with nine home runs and 56 RBI in 117 games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. His production warranted a late-summer promotion, and in 16 games with the big league club, Refsnyder collected 13 hits in 43 at-bats.
2016 was supposed to be the year Refsnyder took the next step in his career. Instead, the soon-to-be 26-year-old finished with an underwhelming batting average of .250 and an OPS of .637 in 152 at-bats over two separate big league stints (42 games total). Along with offensive struggles, Refsnyder served as a jack-of-all-trades defensively, spending time at five different positions.
“I was learning a bunch of new positions last year, so I focused a lot more on hitting this offseason,” Refsnyder told Martin. “I felt like I haven’t been focusing on offense as much as I should have.”
According to Martin, Refsnyder arrived in Tampa last Saturday night, and his first batting practice session was spent with Judge on Sunday, which was a scheduled off-day for players. The two had hit together this winter in Arizona and in their home state of California.
“I know he’s trying to simplify a lot of things,” Refsnyder said of Judge, who hit a woeful .179 with 42 strikeouts in 27 games as a rookie last season.“This is a big year for him. His impact can be more substantial than most guys because of his body type.
“He put in a lot of work. I think last year he got a short sample size and you want to do as much as you can. But you look at his track record, he gets to a level, gets his feet wet and then has success. I attribute that to his work ethic. He’s willing to try new things, and I’m looking forward to see what he does.”
A modest response from a long-time teammate, but perhaps that’s how Refsnyder feels about his own makeup, too.