Now Batting No. 5 and Playing Left Field, Wilmer Flores
Updated by Joe D. on 2/27
We may hear those words blare over the Citi Field PA system one day in the near future during a Mets game… Maybe…
Whether or not Wilmer Flores should be handed an outfield glove has been debated quite passionately on MMO many times over the last several months. We’ve all debated the pros and cons of such a move, and obviously so have the Mets.
As Andrew Keh of the New York Times pointed out, Flores has continued to distinguish himself as one of the more promising hitters in the Mets’ organization, but he is a player who, at the moment, seems to lack an obvious position. That said,, everything keeps pointing to the outfield.
“It’s an obvious question,” General Manager Sandy Alderson said Tuesday morning, “and we’ve considered it. Our focus is developing him as a hitter, and that’s not something we want to interfere with.”
As for Flores, he keeps saying the same thing each time he’s asked, “Sure, why not? I’ll play anywhere they ask me to play.”
Look for Flores to get some playing time in the outfield this month and next as well. It may only be an experiment for now, but it’s becoming quite clear the team is not looking to trade him and view him as a keeper. That means a position change will have to be coming…
Original Post 2/26
Last night was the first time most Mets fans got the chance to see Wilmer Flores play second base, including myself. Seeing Flores at second base was one of the main things I was focused on during last night’s game against the Washington Nationals. I’m sure other fans were focused on Flores as well, as talks about running Daniel Murphy out of town began as soon as the Mets announced that Flores would be taking reps at second base this spring.
Making the jump from third base to a middle infield position is generally a very difficult one. The switch from the middle infield to third base is much, much easier. Flores, has now made the switch from the middle infield to third base, and now back to the middle infield.
The reason why the switch from third base to the middle infield is difficult is because the positions are fundamentally different. Sure, you mechanically field the grounder the same way at third base as you would any place on the diamond, but aside from that, just about everything else is different—different reaction times, different angles off the bat, turning the double play is different, different footwork, and different positions to be on cut-offs.
Two of the main things I watched for last night was to see how Flores approached grounders hit in his direction, and how he turned the double play.
Third base is a position where the balls are generally hit sharply, so the player usually waits for the ball to get to him, rather than charge and play the ball. They may have to move laterally, but generally don’t move in on the ball unless it is a weakly hit grounder or bunt—hence being called the “hot corner.” At second base it’s the complete opposite. If the player waits for the ball to get to him, in other words, let the ball play him instead of “playing the ball,” the most routine grounders will turn into infield hits. I wanted to see if Flores took that with him to second base, because playing third base for the past couple of years could have re-programmed him mentally. Flores did a good job of “playing the ball,” and it looked as if his instincts from when he was a former shortstop are still there.
When turning the double play, Flores looked smooth. I was watching for Flores’ pivot, and how he received the throws from the shortstop. There are a couple of different ways for a second baseman to receive the toss on a double play from the left side of the infield. They can use a timing play where they try to time the toss from the left side, and come across the front of the bag to get more momentum on the throw. The other way is to wait at the bag, which generally leads to the second baseman making a flat footed throw off the back foot. Flores arm is definitely strong enough for the latter, and he demonstrated it in last night’s game.
It’s only one game, but Flores had a successful night at second base. It seems the instincts are still there from when he used to play shortstop, the arm strength is there, and now we have to see how his range is on some more challenging ground balls. Everyone will be keeping a very close eye on Flores at second base this spring, the bat is definitely there, and it seems like he may have found a home defensively.
To read previous editions of this feature, go to our MMO Prospect Pulse Archives.
Follow MMO Minor League Analyst Mitch Petanick on Twitter at @FirstPitchMitch for even more Mets Minor League and prospect coverage.
About the Author: Mitch Petanick
Mitch is currently an Editor and Minor League Analyst for Mets Merized Online. His baseball experience includes being a former All-Conference collegiate baseball player who had numerous professional tryouts, and he is currently a hitting instructor. He has been involved with the game of baseball for over 30 years now as a player, coach, and consultant. Mitch is also a former Featured Columnist on Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @FirstPitchMitch.
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