First up are the second basemen. Brian Cashman said, about a week before Christmas, that Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela will compete for the second baseman position. This was part of the youth renovation that Cashman executed this offseason. The Yankees then signed Stephen Drew to a 1-year, $5M contract. It might look like second base is his, but many believe that unless he can hit much better than his 2014 .162 average, the job is going to the rookies.
Rob Refsnyder has gotten a lot of press this winter, and with good reason. After two full seasons in the minors, the view on this South Korean-born player is that he’s ready for the majors. In 2014, he began in AA Trenton and moved up to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In Scranton, he hit .300 with an OPS of .845. He hits with average with a respectable threat to hit for power. The question mark may be his defensive skills. He came up through college as an outfielder, but was converted to a second baseman and put up a .988 fielding percentage in Scranton. That was higher than when he played in lower levels, but look for the Yankees to put him in the field a lot, and watch how he handles tough plays at second. Also look for them to watch how he handles legitimate major league pitching.
Jose Pirela was a September call up in 2014, and got into 7 games. He hit 8 for 24 with a walk, and 3 of those 8 hits went for extra bases. He spent the rest of 2014 in AAA at Scranton, and had a successful season. He hit .305 with a .792 OPS, hitting 10 home runs in 581 plate appearances. His time at second base produced a .979 fielding percentage over 60 games. A solid glove and a good bat for average, Pirela should make for a good show this spring. Look for the Yankees to be testing his defensive skills this spring, as he did commit an error in one of this 7 games last September.
Despite the presence of Stephen Drew, both of these kids have a legitimate shot at making the 25-man roster. Both are also expected to be playing in the Bronx at some point this coming season. The Yankees had a terrible year with the hitting that came out of the second base slot last year. There will be a lot of eyes on these two, as the Yankees are hopeful that one of them will be the answer.
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
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