The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired their 25th man.
In seeking a right handed bat for a utility role on the 2018 roster, the Rays waited until the end of camp to make a transaction, and while many expected a traditional outfielder to be acquired (such as Trayce Thompson), the Rays have found their answer in an infielder.
Former Yankees farmhand Rob Refsnyder, a right handed hitting second baseman who was in camp with Cleveland.
Among possible acquisitions, Refsnyder is an interesting choice if not a strange one. He has not proven himself at the major league level in a couple years of attempts to stick, but his AL East experience, defensive versatility, and high KATOH projection make this a typical Rays transaction.
We'll have a separate post on the #Rays finalizing their roster. Refsnyder is a .295 minor league hitter (.812 OPS) who has played 126 MLB games with New York and Toronto.— Neil Solondz (@neilsolondz) March 27, 2018
Here’s his major league career thus far, courtesy of the Rays press release:
Refsnyder, who turned 27 yesterday, split the 2017 season between the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays organizations, appearing in 20 games at second base, 10 games in left field, six games at first base and four games in right field. He was claimed off waivers by the Indians from the Blue Jays last November. He appeared in 26 games for the Indians this spring, batting .191/.298/.362 (9-for-47) with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBI.
Over parts of three major league seasons with the Yankees (2015-17) and Blue Jays (2017), Refsnyder has hit .233/.306/.311 (66-for-283) with 14 doubles, two home runs and 17 RBI. He was selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2012 June Draft out of the University of Arizona. In six minor league seasons, he has hit .295/.380/.432 (576-for-1,953) with 128 doubles, 14 triples, 37 home runs and 232 RBI. He was ranked by Baseball America as a Top 10 prospect in the Yankees organization following the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
With his debut in 2015, Refsnyder became the fourth South Korean-born position player in major league history, according to Baseball Reference. He joined outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and infielders Jung Ho Kang and Hee-Seop Choi. He has a chance to become the third South Korean-born player in Rays history, following Jae Weong Seo and Jae Kuk Ryu.
After the 2016 season, Refsnyder made an attempt to parlay his excellent bat-to-ball skills into a power hitting profile. It didn’t work, as he hit zero home runs at the major league level and only two in the minors.
Refsnyder walks in the double digits with low strikeout numbers, so his old profile as a hitter should fit the new Rays way of doing things. It’s not a bad gamble overall.
The Rays will try and see if the former lauded infielder who KATOH projections ranked ahead of Aaron Judge in the New York system has anything left in the tank, at least in a part time role. It’s what this team should be doing in a rebuilding year.
Refsnyder made waves earlier this season by being the bat behind this hole-in-one web gem: