FSL notes: Refsnyder rejuvenated

Converted second baseman starts off strong with Tampa

Rob Refsnyder has a .430 on-base percentage in 29 games with Tampa. (Cliff Welch/MiLB.com)

By Guy Curtright / Special to MLB.com | May 22, 2013 6:00 AM ET

After helping lead the University of Arizona to the 2012 College World Series title, Rob Refsnyder wanted to get off to a good start with the New York Yankees organization.

His body and mind weren't quite willing, though.

"After the College World Series, where every pitch is so important, I was dog tired," Refsnyder said. "I was emotionally and physically drained."

But after a slow start, he began swinging the bat last August with Class A Charleston like he always could, and the good times have continued this season.

Refsnyder hit .370 in 13 games while starting the year back with the River Dogs and was batting .327 with a .430 on-base percentage through 29 games after a quick promotion to Class A Advanced Tampa.

Those are more like Refsnyder's impressive college numbers. He hit .476 while being named Most Outstanding Player at the College World Series and batted .364 for the season with the Wildcats.

But the big junior season boosted Refsnyder's Draft stock just so much. The right-handed hitter was still available late in the fifth round when the Yankees gladly took him.

"I've always kind of been overlooked," the 22-year-old said. "That's what drives me."

Refsnyder played almost exclusively in right field at Arizona and made a memorable throw in the College World Series. But the Yankees took him with second base in mind and moved him there this year.

"I must have taken a million ground balls, but I'm still a work in progress," said Refsnyder, who has 10 errors with Tampa. "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."

Refsnyder is also being used as the designated hitter now with the return of Angelo Gumbs, New York's No. 7 prospect, from the disabled list, and he continues to hold down the No. 3 spot in the Tampa batting order.

Through Monday, Refsnyder had 12 extra-base hits and 18 RBIs with the Yankees and 17 walks to 16 strikeouts. He had also stolen 13 bases between Tampa and Charleston without being caught.

Born in South Korea, Refsnyder was adopted at three months old and grew up in Southern California, where he was a three-sport standout at Laguna Hills High School.

"I was very fortunate," he said. "I was given a great opportunity and have a wonderful family. We have a special relationship."

Refsnyder's father played college basketball, and he has an older sister, also adopted from Korea, who played college volleyball.

"My dad is 6-foot-8 and my mom is 5-foot-4 with red hair," Refsnyder said. "We definitely can't pass for [biologically] related."

But Refsnyder says he gets a lot of his competitive drive from his adopted parents, and that is what he hopes will carry him to Yankee Stadium.

Of course, there may not be an opening in the lineup if the Yankees are able to re-sign Robinson Cano.

"They have the greatest second baseman in the world," Refsnyder said. "For me to say I want him to go somewhere else would be stupid. I love watching him play as much as anyone."

In brief

Good start: Jupiter left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney, Miami's No. 5 prospect, was impressive in his delayed first outing, striking out nine and allowing just an unearned run over 4 1/3 innings Monday against Daytona. He gave up four hits and walked two. Haney, the ninth overall pick in the 2012 Draft out of Oklahoma State, hadn't pitched previously this season because of a strained lat muscle. Heaney, 21, made six starts -- four with Class A Greensboro -- last year after signing for $2.6 million.

Cooking lesson: St. Lucie right-handed pitcher Domingo Tapia, the New York Mets' No. 11 prospect, hasn't pitched since May 5 after burning his non-pitching hand in a cooking accident, The 21-year-old from the Dominican Republic will be able to return to the mound when the blistering heals enough for him to field his position. Tapia (2-3) had a 2.73 ERA in seven starts and allowed just two hits over six scoreless innings in his last game.

May turnaround: Charlotte right fielder Drew Vettleson, Tampa Bay's No. 10 prospect, hit just .197 in April, but he got going at the plate once the season hit May. The No. 42 overall pick in the 2010 Draft batted .382 with eight extra-base hits and 11 RBIs in his first 14 games of the month. Vettleson, 21, had eight strikeouts to five walks in the stretch after having 14 strikeouts to two walks in April.

Down time: Dunedin right-hander Aaron Sanchez, Toronto's No. 1 prospect and No. 33 in MLB.com's Top 100, was placed on the disabled list Monday after pitching three innings Saturday against Brevard County. The No. 34 overall pick in the 2010 Draft allowed two hits, including a homer, and two runs in the no-decision, striking out two and walking two. In nine starts this season, Sanchez, 20, is 2-2 with a 3.16 ERA and 37 strikeouts to 16 walks in 42 2/3 innings.

Guy Curtright is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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