Wilmer Flores and Second Base Defense (An ongoing series….)

Flores Swing (Baron)Lets talk about 2B/3B/OF Wilmer Flores just a little bit. The 21-year old can hit, but he is still looking for a position.

Sunday, he entered behind Ruben Tejada in the Mets’ exhibition against the University of Michigan. He homered on a 3-1 pitch in his second at-bat. In his third at-bat, he sent one to the warning track in left. He said it was a slider that he got down towards the end of the bat and did not hit well. Even so, the ball carried out to the track.

Flores is carrying three gloves in his locker these days, a second baseman’s, a third baseman’s and an outfielder’s. He got to use both of his infielder’s gloves Sunday. I did not see him make any plays at third. At second, he handled a routine grounder and a less routine grounder. In the ninth inning, the Michigan catcher, Cole Martin chopped a ball on the right side. Cole Frenzel, playing first made an attempt on the ball, but could not reach it. Flores, moving well to his left made the play deep in the hole, and made the short throw to first base where pitcher Carlos Torres was covering. He’s played a significant amount of second base in winter ball and describes himself as getting comfortable there.

The positive: Flores moved to cover ground to his left. The caveat: he threw out a college catcher at first base. I did not have a stop watch on the play, but I suspect that most big leaguers beat the play down the line.

A scout watching a row in front of me exclaimed, “Hey, Wilmer.”

I’m still skeptical that he can have anything better than below average range at second. Even so, this was not a data point in the “he can’t play there” category. There’s also a big difference than say, five runs below average over the course of a season, and 15 below. At -5, his bat could make him a valuable player.

Flores was not the least mobile Mets’ 2B on Sunday. That honor belonged to Reese Havens. Havens, who also committed an error early in the game, had to go into a half-slide on a ball to his left in the sixth inning. There was nothing wrong with the play. Except, as I watched it, I wondered why he was sliding. I think that’s the kind of play that a Major League caliber second baseman needs to make on his feet.

With David Wright entranced and enriched at third, if Flores is going to contribute to the Mets at the big league level in the near future it’s going to be at second. I think Flores’ arm and foot speed fit better at third. However, with Murphy day-to-day, it makes sense to give Flores reps at second in the spring. And well, surprise, he’s listed as the starter at second tonight against the Nationals.