Jun. 15—When Kiké Hernández went down with a hip injury during last week’s West Coast road trip, the conventional wisdom was that the Red Sox would call up top outfield prospect Jarren Duran to fill his spot.
Duran has crushed the ball in Triple-A and played well in his limited big league opportunities this year, including earlier in the road trip when he subbed in while Jackie Bradley Jr. was on paternity leave. Yet instead of the exciting prospect, the Red Sox instead tabbed 31-year-old minor leaguer Rob Refsnyder to take Hernández’s place.
Turns out the Red Sox knew what they were doing.
Refsnyder has been terrific since joining the big league club over the weekend, and Tuesday he enjoyed one of the best games of his seven-year big league career. The veteran utility man went 3 for 4 with a run scored and a sacrifice fly out of the leadoff spot in Boston’s 6-1 win over the Oakland Athletics, and on top of that he made his second highlight reel catch in three days in the outfield, making a leaping runner against the wall to rob Ramón Laureano of extra bases in the sixth.
“Very athletic, he’s hitting the ball hard and controlling the at bats, which is very important,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “We saw it in spring training and obviously you have to work with your roster but we knew at one point he was going to be someone who’d be part of this. He can hit lefties, he gives you versatility in the outfield, another athlete on the bench when he doesn’t start, so far so good.”
Refsnyder hasn’t just performed since he getting called back up, he’s taken advantage of every opportunity that’s come his way. Since signing as a minor league free agent last fall Refsnyder has batted .306 with six home runs, 28 RBI and a .952 OPS in 42 games at Triple-A Worcester, and during a brief big league cameo in April he went 2 for 5 with a pair of doubles over three games.
Since his return to the big leagues over the weekend Refsnyder has batted leadoff in all three games he’s played, all Red Sox wins. During the two wins in Seattle he reached base three times, scored two runs and made an incredible diving catch in the eighth inning of Sunday’s game to help keep the Mariners off the board.
That led to Tuesday’s performance, where he made his own luck by smoking the ball at more than 100 mph off the barrel in four of his five at bats. That included a game-high 109 mph screamer that ate up Oakland third baseman Jonah Bride for an infield hit.
“I was pretty fortunate today, I got lucky, I hit some balls at some guys and fortunately they didn’t make the play,” Refsnyder said afterwards. “I hit it hard, it easily could have been an out, so I’m thankful those fell through.”
What becomes of Refsnyder after Hernández returns from injury…