Wilmer Flores got off to a slow start in 2013. The 21 year-old prospect found himself in the shadow of top prospects Travis d’Arnaud and Zack Wheeler when he arrived in Las Vegas. But now we find ourselves almost two months into the season, and Flores seems to be hitting his stride offensively.
Flores is quietly putting up solid numbers this season, batting .292/.335/.470 with 26 extra-base hits in 202 at-bats. There have been some rumblings lately that Flores could actually be a first base option for the Mets if they decide to send Ike Davis down to work on his swing. In fact, some think that is the only place on the field where Flores can play defensively due to his lack of range.
Offensively, the kid is the goods. Over his last ten games, Flores is hitting .372 with seven doubles and 10 RBI. What really impresses me about Flores is that he doesn’t strike out much. In 51 games this season he only struck out 23 times — that means he puts the ball in play, and when you put the ball in play you put the pressure on the defense to make the outs.
The question with Flores is if the Mets don’t think he can stick in the middle-infield or a corner outfield spot, then why not start transitioning him to first base now? And I know it’s too late for this, but due to his limited range, he would have been the perfect type of guy to try and convert to a catcher. Another question is, will he be defensively strong enough at first base to justify having his bat in the lineup?
Flores has been compared to Miguel Cabrera, but that really isn’t fair to Flores, or the Mets fans who now think that they have the next Miguel Cabrera on the way. At 21 years-old, Cabrera was batting over .300 with 30 plus home runs and 100 plus RBI at the major league level — very big shoes to fill. Flores will be closer to a .285 guy with 20-25 home runs every year.
Flores is still young and actually light for his height, listed at 190 pounds. He is likely to fill out some more, and when that happens he will probably become even less mobile. Then what do the Mets do with their budding star? They have to move Flores over to first base permanently to see if it is a viable option that Flores can stick there. If not, they could have a young man with a very big bat, and no place to put him.
By the way, Flores received an Honorable Mention on this week’s Baseball America Hotsheet.