Prospect Profile: Rob Refsnyder

(MiLB.com)
(MiLB.com)

Rob Refsnyder | 2B

Background
Refsnyder, who will turn 24 in Spring Training, was born in South Korea and adopted by a family in Orange County when he was only three months old. He played football and basketball in addition to baseball at Laguna Hills High School and was named Pacific Coast League MVP in baseball as a senior and twice in football. Despite all that, Refsnyder was not much of a pro prospect — Baseball America (subs. req’d) did not rank him among 190 California prospects for the 2009 draft — so he followed through on his commitment to Arizona after going undrafted out of high school.

As a freshman, Refsnyder stepped right into the starting lineup and played everyday for the Wildcats, and immediately became one of the team’s best hitters. He hit .344/.397/.440 with nine doubles, two homers, 14 walks, and 31 strikeouts in 57 games that spring while playing some second and third base but mostly left field. Refsnyder went 4-for-10 in three games as Arizona was knocked out of the postseason in the Regionals, though he was named to the All-Region Team. The overall performance earned him an All-Pac 10 Team Honorable Mention as a freshman.

Refsnyder played in all 60 of the team’s game as a sophomore — almost all of them in right field — and hit .320/.371/.498 with 13 doubles, six homers, 16 walks, and 31 strikeouts. Although the Wildcats were again eliminated in the Regionals, Refsnyder was named to the All-Pac 10 First Team and ABCA West Regional First Team. He played for the Wareham Gatemen of the Cape Cod League that summer and hit .308/.406/.436 with nine doubles, four triples, 17 walks, and 26 strikeouts in 39 games.

Refsnyder was one of the best players in the country as a junior, putting up a .364/.453/.562 batting line with 19 doubles, eight homers, 14 steals, 34 walks, and only 26 strikeouts in 65 games. He again spent most of his time in right field. Arizona blew through the Regionals and Super Regionals — they went 5-0 and outscored their opponents 61-20 — to advance to the College World Series. Arizona won all five of their games in the CWS to win the National Championship. Refsnyder homered in the first game of the CWS and went 10-for-21 (.476) in the five games overall, which earned him the College World Series Most Outstanding Player Award.

Baseball America ranked Refsnyder as the 369th best prospect in the 2012 draft class that spring. The Yankees selected him in the fifth round, with the 187th overall selection, and he signed quickly for the full slot $205,900 bonus.

Pro Career
Although they had plans to move him from the outfield back to second base (his high school position), the Yankees let Refsnyder play out the 2012 season in the outfield after signing. They sent him straight to Low-A Charleston after the draft and he hit .241/.319/.364 (91 wRC+) with four homers and eleven stolen bases in 46 games for the River Dogs.

The Yankees moved Refsnyder to second base and sent him back to Low-A Charleston to start the 2013 season, though he was quickly bumped him up to High-A Tampa after hitting .370/.452/.481 (173 wRC+) with seven steals in 13 games for the River Dogs. Refsnyder put up a .283/.408/.404 (140 wRC+) line with six homers and 16 steals in 117 games for Tampa after the promotion. All told, he hit .293/.413/.413 (143 wRC+) with 32 doubles, six homers, 23 steals in 29 attempts, 84 walks, and 82 strikeouts between the two levels in 2013.

Refsnyder started the 2014 season with Double-A Trenton and hit .342/.385/.548 (~159 wRC+) with 19 doubles and six homers in 60 games before the organization moved him up to Triple-A Scranton. In 77 games with the RailRiders, Refsnyder hit .300/.389/.456 (137 wRC+) with 19 doubles and eight homers. His combined batting line for the 2014 season was .318/.387/.497 (~146 wRC+) with 37 doubles, 14 homers, nine steals in 18 attempts, 55 walks, and 105 strikeouts.

Scouting Report
Refsnyder is listed at 6-foor-1 and 205 lbs., and he stands out for his simple and balanced setup at the plate. He knows the strike zone and his combination of hand-eye coordination and level swing allow him to spray line drives to all fields. Refsnyder, a right-handed hitter, did focus on going the other way in college and during his first full year as a pro, though this past season he did a better job of pulling the ball with authority when he got a pitch to drive. Here are his 2013 (on the left) and 2014 (on the right) spray charts, courtesy of MLB Farm:

Rob Refsnyder Spray Charts-001

Refsnyder has some power but most of it figures to be into the gaps for doubles at the next level. He isn’t much of a runner either despite the nice pre-2014 stolen base totals and success rate. He’s a high-contact hitter who knows how to get on base, which fits the traditional number two hitter mold rather well. Here’s some video:

In the field, Refsnyder remains rough at second base but he has improved since turning pro, particularly around the bag and on double play pivots. His movements in the field are choppy and he still shows some indecisiveness when it comes to charging a ground ball or waiting back. Some of that is simply due to a lack of experience, though Refsnyder isn’t particularly quick on his feet.

Refsnyder draws high marks for his makeup and work ethic, and others like Robinson Cano and Chase Utley worked their way to become above-average defenders at second after being below-average elsewhere early in their careers. That’s not to say Refsnyder will definitely turn himself into an asset in the field, just that it has happened in the past when it looked like it wouldn’t.

2015 Outlook
Perhaps moreso than any non-reliever prospect I’ve profiled over the years, Refsnyder’s landing spot at the start of next year will depend heavily on what the big league team does this offseason. If the Yankees manage to bring in a second or third baseman this winter, Refsnyder will go back to Triple-A and wait for a call-up. If the Yankees don’t bring in a second or third baseman, then Refsnyder will compete for the second base job in Spring Training (Martin Prado would presumably play third) with someone like Jose Pirela and/or some non-roster invitees. Either way, it seems like Refsnyder will make his Major League debut at some point in 2015, perhaps as soon as Opening Day.

My Take
I really like Refsnyder and want the Yankees to give him a chance to be their everyday second baseman at some point next summer, but I also think the hype has gotten out of control at this point. That’s not to say I don’t think he’ll be a quality big leaguer — there a lot between future star and future bust, you know — just that I’m not sure how much of an impact he can have a low-power hitter and below-average defender at second, especially when he first makes the jump to MLB. There’s a lot to like about Refsnyder, particularly his potential to hit for a high average with a good on-base percentage. He’ll have to make some big strides to contribute anything more than that though.

Prospect Profile: Jordan Foley

(Robert Pimpsner)
(Robert Pimpsner)

Jordan Foley | RHP

Background
Foley was born and raised in The Colony, a suburb of Dallas, and he played baseball at The Colony High School. (The name of the city is literally The Colony.) He was not very highly regarded out of his school — Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked Foley as the 112th best prospect in Texas for the 2011 draft — and opted to follow through on his commitment to Central Michigan after the Yankees made him their 26th round pick (809th overall).

As a freshman with the Chippewas, Foley had an ugly 8.20 ERA with more walks (34) than strikeouts (25) in 37.1 innings spread across six starts and seven relief appearances. He moved into the rotation full-time as a sophomore and was much better, pitching to a 3.08 ERA with 90 strikeouts and 44 walks in 15 starts and 90.2 innings. After the season, Foley had a 3.00 ERA with 34 strikeouts and ten walks in 27 innings for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape Cod League.

Foley had another strong season as a junior this spring, throwing 97.2 innings across 15 starts with a 3.69 ERA. He struck out 81 and cut his walk total down to 28. Baseball America (no subs. req’d) ranked Foley as the 128th best prospect in the 2014 draft class while Keith Law (subs. req’d) did not rank him among his top 100 draft prospects. The Yankees selected Foley again, this time in the fifth round with the 152nd overall pick. He signed quickly for a straight slot $317,500 bonus.

Pro Debut
After a quick tune-up appearance with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Yankees, Foley was bumped up to Short Season Staten Island, where he had a 4.46 ERA (3.15 FIP) in 34.1 innings. He made five starts and six relief appearances as pair of the team’s tandem-starter system. Foley allowed just one homer and posted an excellent strikeout rate (9.70 K/9 and 24.8 K%) with a workable walk rate (3.67 BB/9 and 9.4 BB%).

Scouting Report
The first thing everyone seems to talk about with Foley his unconventional follow through. His leg kick and everything else is fairly standard, but he has a big head whack after releasing the ball and it’s not the prettiest thing you’ll ever see on the mound. Check it out:

Foley struggles to repeat that delivery and it’s why his command is spotty at best and many project him as a reliever down the road. You don’t see many starters with a delivery like that throwing 100+ pitches every fifth day. Despite the delivery, Foley hasn’t had any injury problems since getting to Central Michigan.

Foley has a classic pitcher’s frame at 6-foot-4 and 215 lbs., and he sits in the 90-94 range while touching 96-97 as a starter with his four-seam fastball. He hit 96-97 more regularly when working out of the bullpen this past summer. Foley is one of the rare pitchers who comes to pro ball with a splitter — he uses the mid-80s offering as a changeup to combat left-handers. A promising low-80s slider rounds out his repertoire.

2015 Outlook
Because he’s not as refined as many college pitchers, I expect Foley to open next season in the Low-A Charleston rotation, and he just might stay there all year and focus on repeating his delivery and improving his location. If he does that, he can move up to High-A Tampa in 2016 and get on the fast track. I would be very surprised if Foley opened 2015 with Tampa unless he’s moved into the bullpen full-time, and it’s way too early in his career to do that.

My Take
I like Foley and was pleasantly surprised the Yankees were able to get him in the fifth round. He was considered more of a third rounder heading into the draft. That delivery is kinda scary and I’m not sure he’ll be able to start long-term without some serious cleanup, but he has a nice power repertoire — I dig the splitter, it’s a devastating pitch when thrown properly — that misses bats and the control issues are a little easier to stomach in short one-inning relief outings. I think Foley has a chance to be an impact high-strikeout reliever down the line.

Prospect Profile: Austin DeCarr

(Martha's Vineyard Times)
(Martha’s Vineyard Times)

Austin DeCarr | RHP

Background
DeCarr grew up south of Boston in Foxborough, where he played both baseball and football at Xaverian Brothers High School. He went undrafted after graduating in 2013, then did a post-graduate year at the prestigious Salisbury School in Connecticut. DeCarr went 7-0 with a 0.64 ERA and a 93/19 K/BB in 42 innings during his lone year as Salisbury.

Prior to the 2014 draft, Baseball America ranked DeCarr as the 64th best prospect in the draft class while Keith Law (subs. req’d) did not rank him among his top 100 draft prospects. The Yankees selected DeCarr with their third round pick, the 91st overall selection. He passed on his commitment to Clemson and signed a week after the draft for a $1M bonus, well above the $585,100 slot value.

Pro Debut
The Yankees sent the 19-year-old DeCarr to the rookie level Gulf Coast League after signing. He pitched to a 4.63 ERA (3.68 FIP) in 23.1 closely monitored innings across eight starts and three relief appearances. Only four times in those eleven outings was he allowed to complete three full innings of work. DeCarr told John Johnson he spent a bunch of time with the rehabbing Andrew Bailey while in Tampa.

“I’ve probably been hanging around with Bailey more than anyone, and I’ve learned a lot from him,” said DeCarr to Johnson. “Life in professional baseball is obviously a little bit different than things I’ve experienced in the past. We’ve talked about that, and about trying not to get too up or down and staying focused on the things that I can control.”

Scouting Report
DeCarr is a big kid who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds. He sat in the 90-92 mph range this spring but reportedly bumped that to 93-94 with a few 96s while working in short bursts after signing. His best pitch is a hard low-80s hammer curveball he can throw for strikes or bury in the dirt for swings and misses. It’s a true out pitch at its absolute best. You can see it a few times in this video:

DeCarr does throw a hard changeup in the mid-80s but it is his clear third pitch right now. He uses a bit of an old school drop-and-drive delivery and he can locate his fastball to both sides of the plate. As with most high school pitchers — DeCarr technically wasn’t drafted out of high school, but he kinda sorta is a high school prospect — out of cold weather states, DeCarr doesn’t have many miles on his arm and he lacks experience. The Yankees love his makeup and work ethic, predictably.

2015 Outlook
Even though he will turn 20 in March, I expect DeCarr to start next season in Extended Spring Training rather than head to Low-A Charleston. He seems like an obvious candidate to join the organization’s new Appalachian League Affiliate (Pulaski Yankees!) when their season starts in late-June. The Appy League is technically classified as rookie ball, though the quality of competition is better than the Gulf Coast League but not quite as good as the Short Season NY-Penn League. It’s a stepping stone between the GCL Yanks and Staten Island Yanks, which seems like an appropriate level for DeCarr.

My Take
I didn’t know a whole lot about DeCarr prior to the draft but I do like that he has an out pitch in his curveball. That ability to miss bats will take you pretty far all by itself. DeCarr is more or less maxed out physically, so he probably won’t add much if any velocity as he matures these next few years. The changeup is the key here. If he can learn a usable changeup — it doesn’t have to be a great pitch, just good enough to make hitters respect it — DeCarr will have a chance to become a big league workhorse starter. If not, he might have to settle for a bullpen role long-term. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. He’s a very good pro prospect, I’m just sure I see the huge upside we tend to associate with teenage pitching prospects.

Prospect Profile: Jacob Lindgren

(Martin Griff/The Times of Trenton)
(Martin Griff/The Times of Trenton)

Jacob Lindgren | LHP

Background
Lindgren, who will turn 22 in March, is from Bay St. Louis in Mississippi, which is about 50 miles outside New Orleans. He played both football and baseball at St. Stanislaus High School and won state championships in both sports. Lindgren had a 1.26 ERA with 197 strikeouts in 107.1 innings as a junior and senior while earning All-State honors. The Cubs selected him in the 12th round of the 2011 draft, but he did not sign and instead followed through on his commitment to Mississippi State.

As a freshman with the Bulldogs, Lindgren was a middle reliever who eventually worked his way into the rotation and made two starts late in the year. He finished the season with a 3.18 ERA and a 24/7 K/BB in 28.1 innings across 14 appearances, including the two starts. Lindgren was named to the Conference Freshman Academic Honor Roll and played summer ball with the East Texas Pump Jacks of the Texas Collegiate League.

The late season audition didn’t just earn Lindgren a rotation spot as a sophomore, he started on Opening Day and was the team’s Friday night starter for much of the year. Lindgren had a 4.18 ERA in 56 innings spread across 14 starts, striking out 65 and walking 18. He was again named to the Conference Academic Honor Roll. After the season, Lindgren pitched for the Bourne Braves of the Cape Code, posting a 4.15 ERA with six strikeouts and one walk in 4.2 relief innings.

Lindgren moved back into the bullpen full-time his junior year once it was decided the whole starting thing wasn’t going to work out. He quickly emerged as one of the top relievers in the country, pitching to a 0.81 ERA with 100 strikeouts and 25 walks in 55.1 innings. He was used as a multi-inning high-leverage reliever rather, not as the closer. Lindgren was a candidate for both the Stopper of the Year Award (top reliever) and Gregg Olson Award (breakout player) in addition to being named to the Conference Academic Honor Roll a third time.

Prior to the 2014 draft, Baseball America and Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked Lindgren as the 50th and 67th best prospect in the draft class, respectively. Baseball America had him as the second best prospect in the state of Mississippi. The Yankees selected Lindgren in the second round (55th overall) of this June’s draft, which was their top pick. He signed within about a week of the draft for the full slot $1,018,700 bonus.

Pro Debut
Lindgren made his pro debut two weeks after signing and it was nothing more than a tune-up appearance with the rookie Gulf Coast League Yankees. He struck out two in a scoreless inning. The Yankees bumped Lindgren up to Low-A Charleston (5 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 11 K), then to High-A Tampa (7.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 17 K), then to Double-A Trenton (11.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 9 BB, 18 K). All told, Lindgren struck out 48 batters and walked 13 in 25 pro innings after signing (2.16 ERA).

Scouting Report
Listed at 5-foot-11 and anywhere from 180-205 lbs., Lindgren is a short little lefty who regularly sits in the 92-95 mph range his fastball, which runs back inside on lefties. His moneymaker is a vicious low-to-mid-80s slider with hard and late break that chews up righties and lefties alike. Lindgren turns his back to hitters during his delivery and the deception helps his fastball-slider combo play up. Here’s some video:

Lindgren does not have a changeup nor will he need one going forward because he’s a full-time reliever — both Brian Cashman and amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer confirmed he will remain in the bullpen going forward. His fastball sits in the upper-80s as a starter and his command is just okay overall, so there isn’t enough upside to make it worth trying him in the rotation. Lindgren played against top competition in the SEC throughout his college career and his makeup is said to be well-suited for a late-inning role.

2015 Outlook
The Yankees will invite Lindgren to big league Spring Training next year and the expectation is that he will be given every opportunity to win a bullpen job. If he doesn’t, he’ll go to Triple-A Scranton and bide his time. The Yankees didn’t draft Lindgren with their top pick — even if it was in the second round — to coddle him in the minors for several years. They aggressively moved him up the ladder this summer and he’ll make his MLB debut at some point next season, likely sooner rather than later. If he doesn’t, then something went very wrong.

My Take
I don’t love the idea of taking a reliever with your top pick, though the Yankees did not have a first rounder and these days the talent comes off the board fairly linearly. The best players go first. Their options with the 55th overall selection were some raw high schoolers — the kind of players they haven’t had much success developing lately — or a near-MLB-ready reliever. They opted for a reliever and Lindgren will help him in some capacity this season. I like that Lindgren has an elite put-away pitch in his slider and that he isn’t just a specialist; he’s an Andrew Miller-esque southpaw who will be able to pitch full innings against both lefties and righties. It’ll be nice to see a top draft pick pay some immediate dividends after these last few years.

Prospect Profile: David Palladino

(Robert Pimpsner)
(Robert Pimpsner)

David Palladino | RHP

Background
Palladino is a local kid from Emerson, New Jersey. He spent his freshman and sophomore years of high school at Paramus Catholic High School before transferring to Emerson High School for his junior and senior years. Palladino earned First Team All-League and First Team All-Bergen County honors in both baseball and basketball in high school, and he was named North Jersey Baseball Player of the Year after pitching to a 1.08 ERA with 19 hits allowed and 131 strikeouts in 72.1 innings as a senior. He also hit .494/.573/.872 with eight homers that year.

Despite the decorated prep career, Baseball America (subs. req’d) did not rank Palladino as one of the 13 best prospects in New Jersey prior to the 2011 draft. The Dodgers selected him in the 13th round (404th overall) but he did not sign and instead followed through on his commitment to the University of South Carolina Upstate. He threw only 38 innings as a freshman with the Spartans (5.21 ERA and 40/23 K/BB) because he hurt his knee and needed surgery to repair tendon damage.

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Prospect Profile: Jose Ramirez

Changeup! (Presswire)
Changeup! (Presswire)

Jose Ramirez | RHP

Background
Ramirez is from the relatively small town of Yaguate, which is Michael Pineda‘s hometown and roughly 30 miles outside San Cristobal in the Dominican Republic. The Yankees signed him as a 17-year-old in 2007 to an unknown but small bonus. The size of the bonus wouldn’t be unknown if it was anything substantial. He was a low-profile signing.

Pro Career
The Yankees kept Ramirez in the Dominican Summer League for his first pro season in 2008. He managed a 4.15 ERA (3.25 FIP) in 39 innings while walking 18 and striking out 39. The club brought Ramirez stateside in 2009 and he pitched to a 1.41 ERA (3.07 FIP) in 64 innings for their Rookie Gulf Coast League affiliate. He struck out 55 and walked 16, and even made a one appearance cameo with High-A Tampa.

Assigned to Low-A Charleston to begin the 2010 season, Ramirez posted a 3.60 ERA (3.04 FIP) with 105 strikeouts and 42 walks in 115 innings before being shut down due to shoulder fatigue in August. He simply ran out of gas. The Yankees moved him up to High-A Tampa to open 2011 but that was a disaster (8.14 ERA and 4.23 FIP in 24.1 innings), so he returned to Charleston for the remainder of the season. Ramirez had a 4.78 ERA (4.17 FIP) with 74 strikeouts and 32 walks in 79 innings in his second tour of duty with the River Dogs and was again shut down in August, this time with an elbow/forearm problem.

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Prospect Profile: Luis Severino

Not many photos of Mr. Severino out there. (ABC News 4 Charleston and MiLB.com)
Not many photos of Mr. Severino out there. (ABC News 4 Charleston and MiLB.com)

Luis Severino | RHP

Background
Severino hails from Sabana Del Mar, a small fishing town along the north shore of the Dominican Republic. He was a little older than the typical Latin American prospect when he signed with the Yankees in December 2011, two months before his 18th birthday. Severino received a relatively modest $225k bonus.

Pro Career
The Yankees assigned Severino to the Dominican Summer League to start his pro career in 2012. He threw 64.1 innings across 14 starts that season, posting a 1.68 ERA (3.14 FIP) with 45 strikeouts (6.30 K/9 and 18.3 K%) and 17 walks (2.38 BB/9 and 6.9 BB%).

Severino came stateside last year and was very impressive, making six appearances with the team’s Rookie Level Gulf Coast League affiliate (1.37 ERA and 1.68 FIP) before being bumped up and making four starts with Low-A Charleston (4.08 ERA and 2.24 FIP). All told, Severino posted a 2.45 ERA (1.92 FIP) with 53 strikeouts (10.84 K/9 and 29.6 K%) and only ten walks (2.05 BB/9 and 5.6 BB%) in 44 innings in 2013. After the season, Baseball America ranked him as the 17th best prospect in the GCL.

Scouting Report
Severino is a short-ish right-hander — he’s listed at only 6-foot-0 and 195 lbs. — with really big stuff. He unleashes 92-94 mph fastballs on the regular and will hump it up to 97-98 on his best days, though he is prone to getting radar gun happy and overthrowing. That is something that can improve with experience, at least in theory. Severino is really athletic and his arm action is loose, so the ball jumps out of his hand.

A mid-80s slider was Severino’s top secondary pitch when he signed, but he developed a low-to-mid-80s fading changeup after turning pro and it has since become his top offspeed offering. The slider is inconsistent but still shows promise. Severino throws strikes with his fastball and he generally locates his two offspeed pitches down in the zone, where they’re supposed to go. There is occasionally some arm recoil — not a huge red flag but not ideal either — in his otherwise smooth delivery. Like most teenage pitchers, Severino still needs to learn the finer points of his craft, like holding runners and fielding his position.

Video

That video is from Spring Training last year and is the only video of Severino I can find. Again, there just isn’t many photos or video of the kid out there.

2014 Outlook
After his successful four-start cameo at the end of last season, Severino figures to return to Low-A Charleston to open 2014. He’ll turn 20 late next month and I expect him to remain with the River Dogs all year, even if he completely tears the South Atlantic League apart.

My Take
Severino is one of those cheaper, lower profile Latin American prospects the Yankees have a knack for digging up. I actually like him more than bigger name international signings like Rafael DePaula and Omar Luis because he throws strikes with his fastball, has already figured out a changeup, and has three pitches overall. Severino is just a kid with barely a hundred pro innings to his credit though. He has a lot of work and development ahead of him, but the raw tools are exciting and suggest he will be able to remain a starter long-term.