The New York Yankees posted a great Week 21, going 5-2 and gaining serious ground in the American Least and AL Wild Card standings. Had it not been for two tough losses to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees could have been within 1.5 games of the Wild Card.
Their strong play this past week can be attributed to several different factors. For one, Robinson Cano is absurdly hot right now. He's hitting .357/.432/.500 in August and has done his job of keeping the Yankees alive.
Alfonso Soriano, Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson have also played a part in keeping the Yankees afloat this week. With Derek Jeter scheduled to return on Monday, per Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York, it seems as if the Yankees are exactly where they want to be given their midseason struggles.
The prospects also posted good weeks. Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams are continuing their adjustment to Double-A pitching, but the Yankees should be happy to know that their top prospects are beginning their climbs to the majors.
As always, there were disappointments along the way. Some guys just didn't produce as expected. Young players aren't unaccustomed to growing pains, though, so there's always Week 22.
2013 Stats: .265 BA, 103 G, 27 2B, 10 HR, 44 RBI, 70 SO, 45 BB
Last Week's Stats: 5 G, 5 H, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 4 SO
Overview: J.R. Murphy retains the No. 10 spot this week, beating out right-handed pitcher Jose Ramirez due to his performances from the previous weeks.
Murphy was nothing spectacular this week. He did just enough to not be a liability for his team and was even considered for the No. 9 spot here prior to some serious analysis. Murphy's performances last week are indicative of the type of player he projects to be in the big leagues.
Murphy can provide a team with great defense and signal-calling behind the plate, but will offer minimal offense. He won't kill a team with a miserable hitting line, but certainly won't win many games with his bat either.
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: For the second straight week, Mark Montgomery has dropped in the rankings. He hasn't pitched since Aug. 10 and is no longer the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera given his down season.
Montgomery was once a candidate to be called up by midseason before his poor pitching and an injury pushed that estimated arrival back to September. Now it appears as if he'll have to wait until 2014.
David Robertson appears to have a stranglehold on the closer's job next season, but that doesn't mean a slip-up or two wouldn't open the door for another candidate. Giving Montgomery the job as a rookie would be an interesting choice, but grooming him for the role in the future instead would make sense.
2013 Stats: .213 BA, 91 G, 20 2B, 5 3B, 4 HR, 37 RBI, 86 SO, 21 BB
Last Week's Stats: 3 G, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 2 SB
Overview: It was yet another supremely disappointing week for Angelo Gumbs. The young second baseman has proven nothing this season, as evidenced by his .213 batting average and .261 on-base percentage.
Gumbs also hasn't played since Aug. 21, so it's unclear as to when he'll play in his next game. The Yankees were hoping he'd progress this season, but a trip to the disabled list could potentially end his season.
Gumbs is lucky to still be on this list given his recent performances, but he went through hot stretches this season that made him worthy of a top-10 ranking. If he does miss more time this week, then he'll likely be dropped from the list—barring other bad performances from other players in the organization.
2013 Stats: 4 W, 2 L, 3.41 ERA, 26 G (19 GS), 2 S, 87.0 IP, 77 SO, 16 BB
Last Week's Stats: 2 G, 2 W, 4.0 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 6 SO
Overview: Jose Campos' transition into the bullpen for Single-A Charleston has been seamless. After starting 19 games this season, Campos has recorded two saves and a number of scoreless outings out of the pen.
The Yankees' decision to move him into the pen seems brilliant both in terms of production and protection. Protecting their young arm is paramount to how well his numbers look on the surface, so limiting him by putting him in the bullpen is great.
Even though he's viewed as a starter in the organization, his strong pitching out of the bullpen makes him even more versatile for the club. Should other options not pan out at closer, Campos could be next in line in a few years time.
2013 Stats: 7 W, 4 L, 23 G (22 GS) 4.07 ERA, 108.1 IP, 142 SO, 52 BB
Last Week's Stats: 1 GS, 4.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 SO, 7 BB
Overview: It's no secret as to why Rafael De Paula struggled in his only start last week. He walked an astounding seven batters in just over four innings. As has been the case all season long, De Paula continues to get burned by the free passes he issues.
If he can control his pitches, then De Paula has the stuff to be a top-notch prospect. He strikes out a ton of batters, has great put-away pitches and can overpower hitters with his stuff. Unfortunately, he doesn't always know where the ball is going when it leaves his hand.
When he gets behind in counts, hitters sit on his fastball and then hit it all over the park. De Paula's issues are based off his lack of control. When he fixes that, he should rise quickly through the organization.
2013 Stats: .251 BA, 128 G, 23 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 50 RBI, 94 SO, 72 BB
Last Week's Stats: 7 G, 6 H, 3 R, 3 2B, 1 RBI, 5 BB, 3 SO, 1 SB
Overview: Ramon Flores was his usual self this past week, appearing in every game and recording nearly a hit per contest. It's unfortunate that he recorded just one RBI, but he was effective in getting on base and scoring. The fact that he has moved up in the rankings is in large part to the poor showing by Rafael De Paula.
His one stolen base represents a bit of an enigma, as his base-stealing ability isn't exactly polished just yet. It was just his seventh steal in 13 chances.
Flores has struggled over his past 10 games, posting a .195 average and just two RBI. He's started to scrape some hits together, though, so there are signs that his slump is coming to an end. This week will be important in determining whether or not he's out of his funk.
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: Even though Tyler Austin hasn't played since July 12, there's no justifying a move down the list past No. 4. He's a step above such prospects as Ramon Flores and Rafael De Paula for now and even a disappointing season mired by injury isn't enough to drop him lower.
Austin has a history of being a strong hitter, so his nagging injuries in 2013 are likely the cause for his drop in production. He has 29 home runs and 155 RBI in his minor league career and he hit .354 in 2011.
Austin and the organization should be looking towards next season. They should collectively seek ways to keep him healthy and get him back to his productive ways. He has a ton of potential and there's plenty of reason to think that a healthy Austin can move up this list in 2014.
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: Like Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott is on the minor league disabled list. The only difference is that Heathcott likely won't play another game in 2013.
Heathcott had been putting together a pretty good year, though the .302 batting average he produced in 2012 still represents his career-high. He totaled career highs in home runs, RBI, doubles, triples and total bases this season, though, so it's safe to say that the Yankees have to be happy with his season.
As Heathcott continues to grow as an outfielder, the competition will begin to mount between himself, Austin and Mason Williams to become the first outfielder called up to the big leagues. Williams may have the edge on the other two at the moment, but next season will be the final leg of the race.
2013 Stats: .252 BA, 111 G, 26 2B, 14 HR, 66 RBI, 84 SO, 38 BB
Last Week's Stats: 7 G, 4 H, 4 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 5 BB, 6 SO
Overview: It wasn't a great week for Gary Sanchez, who has struggled over his past 10 games. He's hitting .158 over that stretch with a string of four consecutive hitless games.
Of his four hits this past week, two went for extra bases. If anything, Sanchez has proven this season that he can still drive the ball when the hits are coming as frequently as he'd like. His ability to work counts and draw walks was also on display this week.
The organization and the fans shouldn't be worried about his past seven games. He's played just 17 total games at the Double-A level, so growing pains are not uncommon. His ability to snap out of his funk will be what proves to the Yankees that he can truly handle the promotion from the lower levels of the organization.
2013 Stats: .251 BA, 111 G, 24 2B, 4 3B, 28 RBI, 15 SB, 73 SO, 39 BB
Last Week's Stats: 7 G, 2 R, 6 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 5 SO
Overview: Mason Williams didn't exactly put up the best of weeks, but his numbers were certainly better than Gary Sanchez. Williams has flip-flopped with Sanchez in this spot in consecutive weeks and will look to retain the No. 1 ranking in Week 22.
Two-thirds of Williams' hits last week went for extra bases, further establishing his gap power. The fact that he failed to walk in seven games isn't good news for a speedster, but his ability to get on base with hits makes up for that just a little.
Williams is hitting just .163 in 11 games with Trenton, but he should be able to build on this past week during the next slate of games. Hitters fresh off a promotion just need some confidence in order to establish consistency at a higher level, and Williams could have plenty of that after three doubles and a triple last week.