Watching 18-year-old SS Wilmer Flores has been a pleasure on and off the field. Yesterday, he was promoted from Savannah to St. Lucie.
Flores began the year on fire, but has really cooled off in the last month plus. Check it out. On May 16th, he was hitting .364/.418/.589. Since, a pretty unimpressive .175/.254/.246. And yet, look at those walk and strikeout rates which stayed nearly the same, the whole time. The difference in the last month was that his extra-base hit rate dropped to a touch over a quarter of his early season rate.
|2010 – Through 5/16||151||55||15||2||5||13||21||.364||.418||.589||13.3||12.7||7.9|
|2010 – After 5/16||126||22||3||0||2||10||16||.175||.254||.246||3.5||11.3||7.0|
|2010 – Total||277||77||18||2||7||23||37||.278||.342||.433||8.8||12.1||7.5|
Why did he stop driving the ball? Various coaches and instructors have posited the following theories: Pitchers started working him more carefully. Word got around the SAL about him. He saw many more breaking balls. It’s nothing. He got tired. He got frustrated and started cheating with his body instead of trusting his hands. (Next week, we’ll look at some video to test whether we can see this.) The bottom line is that Flores, who was special for the first quarter of the season, has been something far less in the second quarter.
I think that alone makes the timing curious. Maybe, given the desire to see Wilfredo Tovar and Wilmer Flores playing everyday, it’s just best for everyone involved for Wilmer to play at the higher A-ball level. Maybe it really is time to challenge Flores to see how he responds to the FSL.
A few more thoughts about Flores:
His hand-eye coordination is exceptional at the plate and in the field where he possesses wonderful, soft hands. His arm is strong. He’s gotten faster since last year after spending a winter dedicating himself to improving his agility. And yet, scouts and the Mets themselves wonder if his future will be at another position because he doesn’t have the mind-blowing athleticism of the average MLB shortstop.
Sometimes, with other top prospects I’ve worked with, I felt a certain resistance when they were asked to do interviews. Never so with Wilmer, whose English is excellent. He was, from all accounts, an excellent worker and learner and a strong teammate.