Stock Up, Stock Down for New York Yankees' Top 10 Prospects in Week 20
Another week has passed, and the New York Yankees have been playing surprisingly good baseball of late. The offense has gone from stagnant to nearly unstoppable, as uncanny performances from Alfonso Soriano and Robinson Cano have kept the team alive midway through August.
Newcomer Mark Reynolds has done his fair share to help the cause, as has the ever-controversial Alex Rodriguez. With bats in the lineup that are finally hitting, the Yankees could be in pretty good shape for the stretch run of the season.
At the minor league level, there was much to analyze after week No. 20. There has been a shake up in the top 10, as a newcomer has taken the No. 10 spot from right-handed pitcher Jose Ramirez. Ramirez hasn't pitched since July 26 due to injury and hadn't registered a strong outing since July 5.
Catcher Gary Sanchez, who had been a staple at the top of the list earlier in the season, was beaten out by Mason Williams a few weeks ago. With both players vying for the top spot this week, a potential swap was in the works.
*To see how this week's ranking compares to last week's, click here.
10. J.R. Murphy, Catcher, Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
2013 Stats: 98 G, .266 BA, 26 2B, 10 HR, 41 RBI, 66 SO, 45 BB
Last Week's Stats: 5 G, 4 H, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 6 SO
Overview: J.R. Murphy grabs the No. 10 spot from Jose Ramirez this week, but it wasn't necessarily because of an outstanding performance. He did perform respectably, hitting a home run and driving in two, but four hits in five games isn't great.
Defensively, Murphy is one of the best in the system and is ahead of Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine in that regard. It's his offense that will be what holds him back from reaching the Yankees sooner.
Murphy has now spent 49 games at both Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season, with the results being almost identical. It will be interesting to see if he starts to heat up as the season continues, though. If he gets hot, then a September call-up could be a realistic option.
9. Jose Campos, RHP, Single-A Charleston
2013 Stats: 19 GS (24 G), 2 W, 2 L, 3.58 ERA, 83.0 IP, 71 SO, 16 BB
Last Week's Stats: 1 G, 2.0 IP, 1 S, 1 H
Overview: Jose Campos hasn't started a game since July 31, but his new role out of the bullpen has seen him achieve success. He's earned the save in each of his past two appearances, throwing a total of four scoreless innings in the process.
What makes Campos such a good option at closer is his dominant repertoire and ability to keep the ball around the plate. He's only walked 16 batters in 83 innings, a testament to the type of control the young right-hander has. A future in the bullpen may not be what the Yankees foresee, but he has been pitching just fine in that role lately.
After a string of poor performances as both a starter and reliever, his past two appearances bode well for his stock this week. Even though he only appeared in one game during week 20, the fact that he built off the previous performance is worth noting.
8. Mark Montgomery, RHP, Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
2013 Stats: 29 G, 2 W, 3 L, 3.38 ERA, 45.1 IP, 41 H, 59 SO, 25 BB
Last Week's Stats: Did not play
Overview: Mark Montgomery's stock in the organization is dropping fast. Once considered the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera, injuries and ineffectiveness have prevented Montgomery from making the jump to the big leagues this season.
He's back on the disabled list for the third time this season with shoulder issues, and his inability to stay healthy and get outs has crippled his meteoric rise through the system. He had previously pitched at two levels per season prior to 2013, and many predicted that he would be a Yankee at some point this season. Now, even a September call-up seems unlikely.
Montgomery hadn't been very consistent when healthy, either. Over his past 10 appearances (dating back to June 1), he had never gone more than two appearances without letting up a run, and two of those appearances resulted in three runs for the opposition.
7. Angelo Gumbs, Second Base, Single-A Charleston
2013 Stats: 88 G, .214 BA, 75 H, 20 2B, 4 HR, 36 RBI, 14 SB, 85 SO, 20 BB
Last Week's Stats: 6 G, 1 H, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 3 R, 5 SO, 1 BB
Overview: Week 20 was not what Angelo Gumbs needed to keep his No. 6 spot in the rankings. Usually it takes several down weeks in a row for a player to forfeit his spot, but this week alone would have been enough (even without considering his previous downers).
Gumbs tallied just one hit and recorded just one walk. He reached base a grand total of two times in six games this week, dropping his average from .225 to .214 and his on-base percentage from .279 to .261 in the process.
A batting average of .261 is barely respectable, whereas a .261 on-base percentage is darn-near pitiful. A speedster needs to get on base and make things happen with his legs. By walking just 20 times this season, Gumbs has proven he can't do that.
Another week like this, and Gumbs could be sniffing a demotion to No. 8.
6. Ramon Flores, Left Field, Double-A Trenton
2013 Stats: 121 G, .254 BA, 120 H, 20 2B, 5 HR, 49 RBI, 91 SO, 67 BB
Last Week's Stats: 6 G, 6 H, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 8 BB
Overview: Ramon Flores put together yet another solid week for the Trenton Thunder, recording a hit per game and tallying three RBI. His patience at the plate was the most impressive thing about his week, as he drew eight bases on balls—including a four-walk performance on August 16.
Flores isn't the flashiest of prospects—evidenced by his .254 average and five home runs—but he gets the job done and is a pretty consistent player. You won't see too many huge weeks from him, but you also won't see all that many terrible ones.
He has leap-frogged Mark Montgomery and Angelo Gumbs this week, as Montgomery continues his fall from grace, Gumbs continues to struggle mightily and Flores continues to keep putting up solid-enough numbers. What could be the most impressive thing about Flores is that he's played in 121 of his team's 126 games.
The young left fielder could find the big leagues in a season or so if he finds just a bit more pop at the plate.
5. Rafael De Paula, RHP, High-A Tampa
2013 Stats: 21 GS, 7 W, 4 L, 3.98 ERA, 104.0 IP, 139 SO, 45 BB
Last Week's Stats: 1 GS, 4.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 SO
Overview: Rafael De Paula put in a ho-hum performance this week, allowing just one run on three hits in four innings of work. The lone run came on a homer. Issuing walks had been an issue for De Paula entering the game, but he didn't surrender a walk and struck out three.
De Paula is one of the top pitching prospects in the system. He was the team's only representative in the MLB Futures Game and boasts and power pitcher's repertoire. While he still needs some fine tuning, De Paula has some of the nastiest stuff in the system. There is a reason is has over a strikeout per inning, after all.
Standing pat at No. 5 this week, De Paula has done just enough recently to maintain his current ranking. Pitching pretty well in week 20 after a bad start in week 19 was exactly what he needed to avoid a drop down to No. 6.
4. Tyler Austin, Right Field, Double-A Trenton
2013 Stats: 81 G, .254 BA, 6 HR, 39 RBI, 15 2B, 76 SO, 41 BB, .344 OBP
Last Week's Stats: Did not play
Overview: It was another week spent on the disabled list for right fielder Tyler Austin, and his utterly disappointing season has continued going south with each passing week. After posting back-to-back great seasons, it seems as if his health issues have caused him to take a step back in his development.
Despite not playing since July 12, it's hard to move Austin lower than the No. 4 spot. Rafael De Paula hasn't done anything exemplary to make a case to move up, while putting Ramon Flores in the team's top-five seems strange given his low batting average and power totals.
We could see a change by next week (or the following), but it certainly won't be easy to supplant a guy who mashed 23 home runs with a .338 batting average and .409 on-base percentage combined over the past two seasons. When healthy, Austin is the real deal.
3. Slade Heathcott, Outfield, Double-A Trenton
2013 Stats: 103 G, .261, 22 2B, 7 3B, 8 HR, 49 RBI, 107 K, 36 BB
Last Week's Stats: Did not play
Overview: Slade Heathcott found his way to the disabled list after the game on August 10, so he did not record any game action this week. Unfortunately, he may not see another game this season, reports Thunder beat writer Nick Peruffo.
The five-tool talent had been in the midst of a hot streak over the last 60 games with a line of .283/.355/.448—hence his jump from a lower ranking on this list to the No. 3 spot. Heathcott had continually posted weeks in which his stock rose, which is exactly the type of growth the Yankees like to see from their top prospects.
When the minor league season ends in about three weeks or so, expect the Yankees brass to consider Heathcott for Triple-A next season. Even if he doesn't start the season there, there's no reason to believe that he won't finish there.
2. Mason Williams, Center Field, Double-A Trenton
2013 Stats: 104 G, .255 BA, 21 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 15 SB, 68 SO, 39 BB
Last Week's Stats: 4 G (with Trenton), 2 H, 3 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 7 SO
Overview: Mason Williams finally got his much-awaited promotion from High-A Tampa to the Trenton Thunder, but his first week with the team was met with mixed results. Sure, he homered in his most recent game on August 18, but the fact that he struck out seven times in 18 at-bats mitigates that homer.
Plus, he didn't walk a single time. It's clear that he's having a problem adjusting to better pitching, but he'll have plenty of time to fix that as he gains more experience at the level. After more than 400 at-bats with Tampa, judging Williams so early in Trenton is unfair.
While his stock would have gone up given his promotion in other weeks, his poor showing does bring it down just a little. He still doesn't fall into the "stock: down" category, though.
1. Gary Sanchez, Catcher, Double-A Trenton
2013 Stats: 104 G, .258 BA, 25 2B, 13 HR, 64 RBI, 78 SO, 33 BB
Last Week's Stats: 5 G, 6 H, 3 R, 1 RBI, 4 SO, 3 BB
Overview: Gary Sanchez re-takes the top spot in the rankings after a second solid week at his new home in Trenton. He received his promotion last week and proved that the Yankees did not make a mistake in their decision.
He recorded six hits in five games, raising his 10-game average in Double-A to .293. Sanchez hasn't displayed much power in Trenton just yet, recording just four doubles and no home runs. Known for his power, Sanchez should come around in that regard as he gains more experience.
Sanchez has the highest ceiling of any Yankees prospect, and he continues to show that week in and week out. He's still a few seasons away, but the Yankees catching position looks to be his for the taking whenever he's ready. For the team, they hope he's ready as soon as possible.