Refsnyder Back To Basics

TAMPA, FL - Rob Refsnyder was one of the hottest hitters in all of minor league baseball to begin the 2013 season, so much so that he got a quick promotion to high-A Tampa. He eventually fell into a slump but he has been heating back up again in big way lately, thanks in large part to getting back to the basics.

Bypassing the short-season circuit entirely last year, the right-handed batter was thrown into Class-A Charleston. The prospect was drained, and it showed when he hit just .241 in 46 games.

After the offseason Refsnyder went back to the Riverdogs in 2013 with force. He batted .370 in 13 games, which earned him a quick promotion to the Florida State league and the Class-A Advanced Tampa Yankees were happy to have him.

Refsnyder stormed Tampa in April with a phenomenal .404 average in his first 12 games. He was hitting at a high rate and he was excited to be there.

"The promotion was a little surprising because Angelo [Gumbs] was already in Tampa," Refsnyder said. "I originally thought that Angelo and I would be separated the whole year.

"I was excited, but at first it did come as a surprise. I wasn't really sure what would happen when Angelo came back. We both play second base, but [we had] been switching off. It's been good."

In May Refsnyder's numbers dropped. He was hitting .212 and already acquired 99 at-bats in 26 games. Clearly, it was a month of struggles and Refsnyder was having trouble finding his previous success.

"Hitting is tough," Refsnyder remarked. "I wasn't finding holes. Marcus [Thames] and Slate [Tommy Slater], our head roaming hitting coordinator, came in and they helped me to quiet it down and get back to the basics.

"Right now I'm focusing on a little bit more power. Marcus and I have been working on some back hips stuff so I'm kind of trying to learn from that stretch.

"I've been hitting really well lately. It's a long season and there will be some ups and downs, but hopefully I can limit my struggles next time."

Baseball is an unpredictable sport and at this level it's about gaining experience, making the changes that are necessary, and keeping the game simple.

"I'm calming things down and trying to swing at better pitches," Refsnyder reassured. "Usually when guys start struggling they want to start hitting again. They start straining the zone and my game is to take a lot of walks, get on base, and things like that.

"I went out of my comfort zone as far as my strengths so right now the biggest adjustment I'm making is to swing at better pitches."

In order to drive the ball young players need to sharpen their pitch recognition. Marcus Thames, the Tampa Yankees hitting coach, attributes Refsnyder's slump to just that pitch recognition. For Refsnyder it's a work in progress.

"Pitch recognition," Thames said. "He was swinging at bad pitches there for a little bit. His mechanics, his hands got away from him and he started chasing pitches. You know, he was just trying to do a little too much instead of trusting his work and hitting better pitches.

"He can really hit, but he just got into a bad habit. If you swing at bad pitches your swing is going to start mess up and your mechanics are going to break down. He started tinkering with the leg kick and the toe tap, but all of that stuff wasn't the problem.

"The problem was that he was swinging at bad pitches and when you do that your swinging is going to break down. He's getting back to getting the pitch he can drive and once he's done that he'll be really good."

So far the month of June has been good for Refsnyder. His stats are back up and he's showing improvement with an average of .354 in 20 games, and after striking out 24 times in 26 May games he has struck out just seven times in June thus far.

What has changed? Refsnyder attributes his recent success to the luck of the game, but Thames believes the prospect has managed to get his head out of the game.

"He's not thinking as much. He's going out playing the game and keeping it simple," Thames reports. "If you start thinking about my hands are here and my fingers are here and I have to hit here, when you're in the box things are going to go badly. He's just got to eliminate all of that and just compete."

Defensively, Refsynder is pleased with his progress. He struggled for a spell, carrying errors from Charleston to Tampa, but has been working diligently and the errors are starting to decrease.

"I'm making some hard plays and trying to benefit with how hard the pitchers are working," Refsnyder said. "Overall it's going really well. I'm not surprised, but enthusiastic about how it's going so far. In the past dozen games I feel more comfortable on second base."

Going forward Refsnyder would like to work on hitting consistently and driving the ball to all parts of the ball park.

"I'm really excited at how far I've come from the beginning of the year to now," Refsnyder said.

Refsnyder is working to improve his swing on the sinkerball in and if he can keep the ball out over the plate his hit ability will increase.

"He's been swinging at the sinkerball and it's a ball, it's off the plate. With a sinkerball I'd like to see him keep the ball out over the plate, which would give him a better shot driving the ball out over the diamond," Thames concluded.

"Lately he's been making good plays defensively. He's been going to his backhand, throwing back across the field, and across his body. He's a true professional. He's been working hard and eventually he's going to get it."

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\r\n \r\n\r\nBypassing the short-season circuit entirely last year, the right-handed batter was thrown into Class-A Charleston. The prospect was drained, and it showed when he hit just .241 in 46 games.
\r\n
\r\nAfter the offseason Refsnyder went back to the Riverdogs in 2013 with force. He batted .370 in 13 games, which earned him a quick promotion to the Florida State league and the Class-A Advanced Tampa Yankees were happy to have him.
\r\n
\r\nRefsnyder stormed Tampa in April with a phenomenal .404 average in his first 12 games. He was hitting at a high rate and he was excited to be there.
\r\n
\r\n\"The promotion was a little surprising because Angelo [Gumbs] was already in Tampa,\" Refsnyder said. \"I originally thought that Angelo and I would be separated the whole year.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was excited, but at first it did come as a surprise. I wasn't really sure what would happen when Angelo came back. We both play second base, but [we had] been switching off. It's been good.\"
\r\n
\r\nIn May Refsnyder's numbers dropped. He was hitting .212 and already acquired 99 at-bats in 26 games. Clearly, it was a month of struggles and Refsnyder was having trouble finding his previous success.
\r\n
\r\n\"Hitting is tough,\" Refsnyder remarked. \"I wasn't finding holes. Marcus [Thames] and Slate [Tommy Slater], our head roaming hitting coordinator, came in and they helped me to quiet it down and get back to the basics.
\r\n
\r\n\"Right now I'm focusing on a little bit more power. Marcus and I have been working on some back hips stuff so I'm kind of trying to learn from that stretch.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've been hitting really well lately. It's a long season and there will be some ups and downs, but hopefully I can limit my struggles next time.\"
\r\n
\r\nBaseball is an unpredictable sport and at this level it's about gaining experience, making the changes that are necessary, and keeping the game simple.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm calming things down and trying to swing at better pitches,\" Refsnyder reassured. \"Usually when guys start struggling they want to start hitting again. They start straining the zone and my game is to take a lot of walks, get on base, and things like that.
\r\n
\r\n\"I went out of my comfort zone as far as my strengths so right now the biggest adjustment I'm making is to swing at better pitches.\"
\r\n
\r\nIn order to drive the ball young players need to sharpen their pitch recognition. Marcus Thames, the Tampa Yankees hitting coach, attributes Refsnyder's slump to just that pitch recognition. For Refsnyder it's a work in progress.
\r\n
\r\n\"Pitch recognition,\" Thames said. \"He was swinging at bad pitches there for a little bit. His mechanics, his hands got away from him and he started chasing pitches. You know, he was just trying to do a little too much instead of trusting his work and hitting better pitches.
\r\n
\r\n\"He can really hit, but he just got into a bad habit. If you swing at bad pitches your swing is going to start mess up and your mechanics are going to break down. He started tinkering with the leg kick and the toe tap, but all of that stuff wasn't the problem.
\r\n
\r\n\"The problem was that he was swinging at bad pitches and when you do that your swinging is going to break down. He's getting back to getting the pitch he can drive and once he's done that he'll be really good.\"
\r\n
\r\nSo far the month of June has been good for Refsnyder. His stats are back up and he's showing improvement with an average of .354 in 20 games, and after striking out 24 times in 26 May games he has struck out just seven times in June thus far.
\r\n
\r\nWhat has changed? Refsnyder attributes his recent success to the luck of the game, but Thames believes the prospect has managed to get his head out of the game.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's not thinking as much. He's going out playing the game and keeping it simple,\" Thames reports. \"If you start thinking about my hands are here and my fingers are here and I have to hit here, when you're in the box things are going to go badly. He's just got to eliminate all of that and just compete.\"
\r\n
\r\nDefensively, Refsynder is pleased with his progress. He struggled for a spell, carrying errors from Charleston to Tampa, but has been working diligently and the errors are starting to decrease.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm making some hard plays and trying to benefit with how hard the pitchers are working,\" Refsnyder said. \"Overall it's going really well. I'm not surprised, but enthusiastic about how it's going so far. In the past dozen games I feel more comfortable on second base.\"
\r\n
\r\nGoing forward Refsnyder would like to work on hitting consistently and driving the ball to all parts of the ball park.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm really excited at how far I've come from the beginning of the year to now,\" Refsnyder said.
\r\n
\r\nRefsnyder is working to improve his swing on the sinkerball in and if he can keep the ball out over the plate his hit ability will increase.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's been swinging at the sinkerball and it's a ball, it's off the plate. With a sinkerball I'd like to see him keep the ball out over the plate, which would give him a better shot driving the ball out over the diamond,\" Thames concluded.
\r\n
\r\n\"Lately he's been making good plays defensively. He's been going to his backhand, throwing back across the field, and across his body. He's a true professional. He's been working hard and eventually he's going to get it.\"
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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