Top 41: #5 – INF Wilmer Flores

Flores Throwing ST 14#5 Wilmer Flores

Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 190
Acquired: NDFA (8/6/07)
Born:  8/6/91 (Valencia, VZ)
2013 Rank: #4 (12: 17) | Stats

Why Ranked Here: At age 22, Wilmer Flores hit his way to the big leagues. He still has some of the best hands at the plate I’ve seen in a decade of minor league baseball. He is still searching for a position to play defensively.

 

That Flores put up gaudy numbers (.321/.357/.531) in the Pacific Coast League in 2013 was not a surprise. His numbers were driven by an increase in his batting average on balls in play from .326 in AA in 2012 to .342 in AAA in 2013 and a slight increase in his extra-base hit rate from 10.2% to 11.9%. That last number is not totally a desert mirage: he’s growing into his power. His winter working out in Michigan

 

However, and this is crucially important, his walk rate slipped from 7.3 in AA to 5.4% in AAA. Basically, Flores’ simple aggressive approach worked extremely well in the minors. It will be trouble in the big leagues and in fact was a problem in his first exposure to big league pitching when he fanned in 22.8% of his plate appearances with walks in just 5%.

 

Now, about that defense problem. Despite the fact that the Mets returned to Flores to shortstop in Spring Training, 2014, and plan to play him there in Las Vegas in the regular season, I still do not think he will have adequate range to play the position. His hands work fine, and he has more than enough arm for the left side of the diamond. This is about feet and quickness. The 2014 Mets might do better with Flores playing shortstop over Ruben Tejada if the difference in value between their bats is larger than the difference in their gloves. That does not mean that Flores is a longterm answer at short. He’s not. I’ve seen enough from him that I think aggressive positioning and shifting will allow him to be adequate – like a few runs below average, to maybe even average in his best years – at second base.

 

Flores’ bat is certainly an asset at three infield positions: shortstop, which he can’t play, third, which he can’t play because of David Wright, and second, which he will play eventually. If he has to slide all the way down the defensive spectrum to first base, is his bat still an asset? I don’t think it is, unless he finds more plate discipline and more power (and yes, often those come together).

 

It’s worth pointing out that Flores has modest platoon splits – a .799 OPS against righties in 2013 and a .889 against lefties against whom he bopped .313/.358/.531 in 162 PA. Flores is more than ready to step in to crush lefties if the Mets need an extra infielder. He’ll return to MLB after the next infield injury.
2013:  After 107 games in AAA Las Vegas, Flores made his big league debut on August 6 in a 3-2 win over the Rockies.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Really good 2B, with some All-Star games in his future.
Debbie Downer Says: First baseman without enough pop to make a big impact.
Projected 2014 Start: AAA Las Vegas
MLB Arrival: Happened already, and will happen again in 2014.

 

Recent Statistics
[sny-table rowheader=true columnheader=true]
;AB;H;2B;3B;HR;BB;SO;AVG;OBP;SLG;
2012 FSL ;242;70;12;0;10;18;30;.289;.336;.463;
2012 EL ;251;78;18;2;8;20;30;.311;.361;.494;
2012 Total ;493;148;30;2;18;38;60;.300;.349;.479;
2012 VWL;140;41;10;0;6;13;19;.293;.363;.493;
2013 PCL;424;136;36;4;15;25;63;.321;.357;.531;
2013 MLB ;95;20;5;0;1;5;23;.211;.248;.295;
[/sny-table]

[sny-table rowheader=true columnheader=true]
;XBH%;SO%;BB%;HR%;BABIP ;ISO
2012 FSL ;8.1;11.0;6.6;3.7;.286;.174
2012 EL ;10.2;10.9;7.3;2.9;.326;.183
2012 Total ;9.1;11.0;6.9;3.3;.306;.178
2012 VWL;10.1;11.9;8.2;3.8;.302;.200
2013 PCL;11.9;13.6;5.4;3.2;.342;.210
2013 MLB ;5.9;22.8;5.0;1.0;.264;.084
[/sny-table]

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