PP 2004 Scouting Report: 1B, Aaron Rifkin

The New York Yankees selected 1st baseman Aaron Rifkin in the 4th round (124th overall) out of Cal State Fullerton University in the 2001 Draft. Rifkin had a strong college career and was assigned to Staten Island for the 2001 season. In his first season he was outstanding and was awarded the New York State Penn League Most Valuable Player.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Aaron Rifkin
Position: 1st Base
DOB: March 12, 1979
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 215
Place of Residence: Tarzana, California
How Acquired: Drafted by the New York Yankees in the 4th round (124th overall) in the 2001 Draft.

After an up and down 2002 season he had a very impressive 2003 season and scouts are saying that he has true big league potential but any stumble in a career of a 25 year old prospect (old by AA standards) could be devastating to his chances of becoming a major leaguer.

In his senior year of high school, Rifkin was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 24th round but he promptly turned down the opportunity to pursue a college career. Showing the importance of college, Rifkin stated "There is a lot of growing up to do in college that I don't think the guys who sign out of high school get."

Rifkin had a fine career at Cal State Fullerton where he led his team to the College World Series as a senior and became a well known star after his transfer from Chapman University. In his first year at Cal State Fullerton, he had an incredible season hitting .378 with 6 home runs and 47RBI while being named First Team All-Big West Conference as well. In 2000, Rifkin proved his ‘99 season was no fluke, hitting .322 with 8 home runs.

Despite a great first two years at the University, 2001 was his shining moment at Cal State Fullerton. After not being drafted by an MLB team in 2000, Rifkin had a new found drive for the 2001 campaign. Rifkin himself stated "I went into my senior season with a different attitude. I had more fun and I wasn't worried about the draft." He put together another outstanding season and sent his team to the College World Series. The University called it one of the greatest feats in the schools history and Rifkin later recalled it as a "great experience."

All of Aaron Rifkin's hard work paid off after his senior year at Cal State Fullerton and he was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 4th round of the 2001 draft. He was assigned to the Staten Island Yankees where he immediately displayed himself as a top Yankee prospect. In only his first season in the organization, Rifkin was awarded the New York State Penn league Most Valuable Player. He put up spectacular statistics, hitting .318 with 10 home runs and 49 RBI's. The next season, however, was not such a pleasant ride for Rifkin. He allowed himself to be intimidated at AA Norwich where he hit only .251 and as a result of this, he spent most of the season going up and down from Norwich to Tampa. At this point in time, Rifkin really began to doubt his abilities and it began to show in his statistics over the course of the season. Overall, in Rifkin's mind, it was a not the type of season that he knew that he was capable of producing. However, in 2003 Rifkin was back in true form and ready for a full season at AA Trenton where he put together a very fine season. He hit .269 with 18 home runs and 90 RBI's.

There is no doubt in any scout's mind that Aaron Rifkin has loads of potential but the question is will he continue to progress before he is too old (25) to be considered a "prospect" anymore. Scouts feel that if a likely full season at Columbus next season goes well, he will still be a very fine prospect that could make an impact at the Major League level.

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2003

Trenton

.269

510

29

19

90

71

5

49

104

.335

.441

2002

Norwich

.251

235

14

4

34

40

5

28

64

.337

.366

2002

Tampa

.278

252

11

6

44

33

1

20

52

.330

.393


* Stats as of 9/7/03

Batting and Power. Over his entire amateur and minor league career, Rifkin has shown good, raw power and scouts tend to think that at the big league level he could conceivably be a 25-35 home run producer with over 100 RBI's. One thing to be improved upon are his high strikeout totals and his low walk totals. In 2003, he walked only 49 times while striking out 104 times.

Base Running and Speed. On the base paths, nobody would consider Aaron Rifkin a slow runner per say but he also does not fit the category of speed demon. However, he did steal 5 bags last season which is certainly not terrible when you look at standards for big league first basemen.

Defense. Ever since being nearly a full time DH in college, Rifkin has greatly improved his defense and has become a very solid defender at first base.

Projection. At this point, it is hard to determine the future of Aaron Rifkin considering his age but on the other hand his mass of talents. However, it seems that if Rifkin does not falter at AAA the same way he did in his first season in AA, he could very well be a very solid Major League first baseman.

ETA. 2005. This ETA is a must for Aaron Rifkin. Going into the 2004 season he will be 25 years old and he will likely start the season at AAA. In order to have a shot at making the big league club in 2005, he must put together another very good season to even be considered for the opportunity but at that point he will be 26 years of age and it may be his last shot to finally make the show.

First Basemen

2003 Team

Aaron Rifkin

AA - Trenton Thunder

Jeff Segar

A - Tampa Yankees

Hunter Bledsoe

A - Tampa Yankees

Jayson Drobiak A - Battle Creek Yankees
Eric Verbryke A - Battle Creek Yankees
Eric Duncan A - Staten Island Yankees
John Urick A - Staten Island Yankees
Taylor Mattingly R - Gulf Coast Yankees
Raul Dominguez Dominican Summer League Yankees


Comments


As of right now, there is nothing stopping a young first baseman from moving up through the Yankee farm system and making an impact on the major league level. Jason Giambi is to say the least, extremely fragile at first base and Nick Johnson has been sent packing to the Montreal Expos. This past off season, the Yankees would have loved nothing more than to have a young first baseman make his way through the ranks and step into a reserve first baseman role. Well, they really had no options of this nature to turn to at the time, but there are some lower level prospects that could be capable of taking on this role in the next couple of years if the need were to still exist.

1.) Aaron Rifkin - Rifkin enjoyed a breakout season in 2003 in which he finally showed off the skills that scouts had been saying that he had since he was drafted in 2001. Shows excellent left handed power and is a solid defender at first base. Needs to cut down on strikeouts and improve his patience at the plate. On base percentage must increase as well. At this point, he is one of the best first base prospects in the organization.

2.) Jeff Segar - After a fantastic season in 2002, Segar suffered a miserable 2003 campaign. Still has excellent power potential from the right hand side. Segar's defense is adequate, but still needs improvement. Must have a bounce back season to regain his standing in the organization. However, it is probable that he will still be promoted to AA Trenton for the 2004 season.

3.) Hunter Bledsoe - Bledsoe has been stuck in the minor leagues far longer than many of his statistics would suggest that he should be. However, he has shown very little to almost no power in his minor league career. Has been compared to Nick Johnson as a result of his patience at the plate. At 27 years of age, he is much to old for A ball. Must make a move within the next couple years, but with his age will still probably not be considered a prospect anymore.

4.) Jayson Drobiak - He could be categorized as the biggest organizational surprise of the 2003 season. Drobiak was picked up out of the Independent Frontier League back in 2002. This was after Drobiak had been released by the Tigers after the 2000 season. Ever since joining the Yankee organization, Drobiak has completely turned his career around. Had a career year in 2003, hitting .293 with an impressive 30 home runs. If he continues to surprise, he will move quickly through the system.

5.) Eric Verbryke - Another pleasant surprise for the Battle Creek Yankees in 2003 was Eric Verbryke. He served as the teams glorified utility man that could play many different positions in any game. However, he played many games at first base and performed very well. Played solid defense and provided a steady bat in the lineup day in and day out. Showed good power by popping 9 home runs while posting a .271 batting average. Expect Verbryke to move quickly through the Yankee farm system.

6.) Eric Duncan - Well for now, Eric Duncan is primarily a third baseman but it seems that in all likelihood that his future is as a first baseman. Is the number two prospect in the Yankee organization behind Dioner Navarro. Has great power with a short, sweet swing. He won't be rushed because of his young age but if he performs as well as he has, the organization will have no choice but to keep challenging him. Of the group and possibly of the entire organization, Eric Duncan is certainly the player to keep an eye on.

7.) John Urick - As an all around player it seems that Urick could have the potential to be an effective first baseman at a higher level. However, there is much to be improved upon on the part of his offense. His batting average stood at an anemic .226. The 22 year old lefty must improve his overall power and production numbers, but still is a very patient hitter that keeps his strikeout totals to a minimum.

8.) Taylor Mattingly - Mattingly only had a limited amount of playing time in 2003 but in the time he did play he did not show much with the bat. However, he did show good patience at the plate and played steady defense. On the other hand, it will take a full season to see what Mattingly really has to offer as a player.

9.) Raul Dominguez - Dominguez played for the Yankees 1 team in the Dominican Summer League in 2003 and there are already many scouts saying that he could be a big league star. It is obvious that it is much to difficult to tell what kind of player he could be considering his very young age and still incredibly raw ability. On the other hand, there is no doubt of the ability he has. He put up some of the best statistics in the league by hitting .316 with 4 HR and 46 RBI in 2003. His 46 RBI were tops in the league and he proved himself as one of the best players in the in the entire league. It is still early in his career, but keep an eye out for the name Raul Dominguez in the next few years.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories