To say that Wilmer Flores can become the next Miguel Cabrera would be pretty foolish. Cabrera is a Hall of Fame type talent and perennial All-Star, so comparing anyone to him is very risky. The Flores/Cabrera comparisons have come mostly from the fact that they are both from Venezuela, both are 6’3″, and both started their minor league careers at SS.
It’s very difficult to separate the fact that Cabrera is a dominant major league hitter now and Flores is just 19, just finishing High-A ball. However, looking at their minor league numbers and scouting reports, one could see where a true comparison can be validated.
Miguel Cabrera- (Minor league stats)
|’00 GCL/NYPL (R/SS-A)||17||251||65||12||2||2||25||52||.259||.338||.347||8.8||20.7|
|’01 – MWL (A)||18||422||113||19||4||7||37||76||.268||.328||.382||7.9||18.0|
|’02- FSL (A+)||19||489||134||43||1||9||38||85||.274||.333||.421||6.9||17.3|
|’03 -SOU (AA)||20||266||97||29||3||10||31||49||.365||.429||.609||10.2||18.4|
Wilmer Flores (minor league stats)
|’08 GCL/NYPL (R/SS-A)||16||280||86||13||4||8||13||32||.307||.347||.468||4.3||13.2|
|’09 – SAL (A)||17||488||129||20||2||3||22||72||.264||.305||.332||4.2||14.8|
|’10- SAL/FSL (A/A+)||18||554||160||36||3||11||32||77||.289||.333||.424||5.4||13.9|
If you look at the levels where they both played and the ages when they played in those levels, there is a striking comparison. Cabrera had higher BB% than Flores, but Cabrera also struck out at a higher rate. Cabrera took a huge leap forward when he turned 20, and mashed AA to the tune of a 1.038 OPS, resulting in a mid season call-up to the Marlins and ultimately helping them win the 2003 World Series.
When comparing their minor league numbers, Flores has the advantage in SLG%, but can Flores match Cabrera’s production as a 20 year old and beyond? Highly unlikely. The advantage Flores has is that he has reached every level Cabrera reached, but a year earlier. Flores will develop more power down the road, but to think he could develop Cabrera type power is pretty far fetched, and that’s where we just have to wait and see his progression.
Now let’s compare their scouting reports.
This Miguel Cabrera scouting report was written by John Sickels in 2003, while contributing for ESPN.com.
Cabrera is a physical specimen. Originally a shortstop, he has outgrown the position and is now at third base. His arm is very strong and his hands aren’t bad, but his range is only average even at third base. He might end up at an outfield corner eventually, but he’ll stay at third as long as possible. He lacks pure speed, but gets a decent jump and is a fundamentally sound runner who can’t be ignored. Scouts also like his work ethic and enthusiasm. For all those positive qualities, his bat draws the most notice. Scouts are taken with his bat speed and project excellent power to come. He makes good contact and does not strike out excessively. His strike-zone judgment is mediocre, though it’s shown signs of improving. He’ll never be a big walk machine, but he does not swing wildly and does a decent job working counts. He’s improved his ability to go with the pitch and shows good pop to all fields. He looks like a genuine Seven Skill player, if he can show range at third base. Even if his defense proves disappointing, he will be a complete hitter.
Here are some bits of Wilmer Flores’ scouting report:
Keith Law (ESPN): The ball flies off his bat, especially in BP, in which he shows the promise of future plus power, and in games he has already shown that he can square balls up against pitchers two or three years his senior. His main deficiency as a player is very slow feet, even though he’s not thickly built, and he has no shot to stay at shortstop and little shot of handling third base, which means he’ll end up at first base or in an outfield corner, although there’s an excellent chance his bat plays in any of those positions.
Mike Newman (scoutingthesally): Flores’ increased athleticism has led to slightly better range this season. His hands are still excellent, and his arm is playable on the left side of the infield. Flores has the hands, reactions, and arm to play at least an average third base, if not a tick above. To assume less would be underestimating his abilities. His contact skills and quick hands are those of a high-average hitter. With his power projections being above average, but not elite.
Toby Hyde: Flores is blessed with excellent hand eye coordination, which helps him make lots and lots of contact at the plate. His big body and room for growth and strength give hope that he will continue to add power as he ages and end up with above average big league power. His arm is strong enough to play third, but he’ll have to learn the footwork for the hot corner.
The scouting reports are eerily similar, although Cabrera had the higher power ceiling, which is a huge factor. A big question for Flores is whether he can stay on the left side of the infield? If he is forced to move to 1B, like Cabrera, will he hit for enough power to play that position?
There is no question that Flores can hit, but his power ceiling is still being debated. Again we are talking about a 19 year old kid, who is still growing and maturing physically. Miguel Cabrera developed Hall of Fame type power and overall hitting ability, which is likely never to be achieved by his young country mate, but according to their minor league stats and scouting reports, the comparisons have some validity.