NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A lot has been said about homegrown talent and “true” Yankees. One player who is the former and has the talent to become the latter is Rob Refsnyder, the 24-year-old second baseman coming off his MLB debut Saturday and first big-league home run Sunday.
So … who is he?
Here are five facts to get you started:
He was adopted at five months old: Kim Jung-tae was born in Seoul, South Korea, in March 1991. He was renamed Rob after being adopted by Clint and Jane Refsnyder, whose daughter was also from South Korea, and was raised in Laguna Hills, California. “I’ll never hide from being adopted,” he told the New York Times. “I’m proud of my family. I play for the name Refsnyder.”
He’s already in the record books: Here’s a neat piece of trivia, courtesy of the Yankees:
He once vowed to never live in South Carolina: Refsnyder swore off the Palmetto State after his Arizona team beat South Carolina in the 2012 College World Series. Upset with the treatment he received from fans of the opposing team, Refsnyder tweeted that South Carolinians “can’t accept Asians playing baseball” (which was later deleted) and said his family was on the receiving end of death threats. Shortly afterward, Refsnyder was assigned to the Yankees’ Class-A affiliate in Charleston. “Generalizing the whole state was foolish on my part, just immature,” he said in July 2012.
He’s the third player in his round to make the majors: Of the 30 prospects taken in the fifth round of the 2012 draft, only Refsnyder, Chris Taylor and Max Muncy have seen big-league action. Taylor debuted last season for the Seattle Mariners, while Muncy got the call in April with the Oakland A’s. All three are infielders and remain with the organizations that drafted them.
He’s paving the way: Refsnyder is one of only four Korean-born position players to have played Major League Baseball. The others: Pittsburgh shortstop Jung-Ho Kang, Texas outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and former big league infielder Hee-seop Choi.