I caught up with Mets top position prospect Wilmer Flores one afternoon two weeks ago in the visitors dugout at New Britain Stadium. Wilmer was nice enough to sit down with me and answer a few questions for the readers at MMO. I asked him for his thoughts on the Eastern League pitching he’s seen so far, and how he feels about being an infield gypsy, playing musical chairs everyday as he moves around the infield positions. His answers may surprise you, so without any unnecessary preamble, here’s what he had to say:
Petey: Wilmer you’ve had a really exciting season so far this year, first you changed defensive positions when you were moved from shortstop to third-base, then started very strong with the bat in St. Lucie, and slugged your way to a promotion to the AA Eastern League, what do you think about this year your having so far?
Wilmer: Well, it’s been going very well. I think the difference between last year and this year is that I have more concentration at the plate. I have an idea of what I’m doing.
Petey: They say it’s a big jump between High-A and Double-A, would you agree with that?
Wilmer: Yeah, it’s definitely the biggest step to make. The difference is the pitchers throw more strikes, they have better command of their pitches, and they know what they’re doing on the mound. It’s still the same game it’s just a little bit faster, but it’s still the same game.
Petey: You were hitting very well at St. Lucie at the time of your promotion to Double-A. But once here, it seems you started to really heat up, and started out in Double-A very strong. How were you able to do that?
Wilmer: Just having more concentration and just having a plan, and trying to get my pitch. Last year I would swing at a lot of pitches out of the strike zone. I’m just trying to get my pitch man, and drive it.
Petey: You made a position change this year as they moved you from shortstop to third-base. You’ve also played a little second and a little first. How do you feel about working at these other positions?
Wilmer: Yeah I played like three or four games at first, it’s a little different, it’s a little easier, but It doesn’t matter to me where I play. I just want to play the game, it doesn’t matter where.
Petey: Now that you’ve had some time to settle in at third are you starting to feel some comfort level there?
Wilmer: Yeah, I feel comfortable. There’s a big difference between High-A and Double-A. Hitters are stronger, they hit the ball harder. And that’s a big difference.
Petey: Is there more in the way of in-game strategy now. Different defensive alignments getting called, wheel-plays, things like that, that weren’t in use in the lower minors?
Wilmer: Yeah definitely.
Petey: Who amongst your teammates have impressed you since you’ve been at Binghamton?
Wilmer: I would say Lagares. He’s hot right now and hitting very well.
Petey: Awesome, yeah his average has been getting up there after a bit of a slow start. Well listen, thank you very much Wilmer for sitting down to chat with me for the readers at MMO. I’ll look forward to talking with you again, good luck with the rest of the season, take care.
Wilmer: Alright, thank you.
That concludes my first chat with Wilmer Flores, hopefully we’ll get a chance to do many more Q&A’s with him as he progresses through the upper levels of the Mets system, on his way to Citifield in a couple of years. And today he turns 21, so we would like to take a moment to wish Wilmer a very Happy Birthday.
He’s obviously a very diligent student of the game, a hard worker and a very serious young man when it comes to the game he loves. With his skill-set and advanced approach to hitting, the question with Flores is no longer if he will make it to the majors, it’s just a matter of when.