After being selected to the Triple-A All Star team for the Pacific Coast League, Wilmer Flores celebrated the occasion by going 5-for-6 with two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored. He’s now boasting a .320/.367/.520 batting line with 27 doubles, four triples and ten home runs in 325 at-bats while scoring 53 runs. Amazingly for a power hitter, Flores is only striking out at a 12% rate.
The 21-year old is still playing second base everyday for Las Vegas with an occasional start at first base. The Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said last month, that Flores will remain a second baseman and while his range there is not elite, it’s more than acceptable and the important thing is he’s a solid fielder, can turn the double play, and has a strong arm. A quick look at his defensive metrics show that Flores and Daniel Murphy are quite similar in range and fielding percentage.
The real question here though is, who is the Mets’ true second baseman of the future? Murphy or Flores who is seven years younger?
Last week I was asked when the Mets would promote Flores, and my reply was that there is no chance they would bring him up unless there is an everyday spot in the lineup for him.
With the Mets dead-set on keeping Flores at second base, a decision I emphatically agree with, his eventual debut may come on the heels of trading Murphy before the July 31 deadline.
Murphy is batting .270/.309/.393 in 323 at-bats this season and has never evolved into the kind of power hitter the Mets wanted him to be. With Murphy arbitration eligible and the likelihood for considerable more salary coming his way, he is clearly someone who is at risk of being shuffled off perhaps to fill a greater need at shortstop or in the outfield.
Flores at 21 has nothing left to prove in the minors. Despite being the third youngest player in his league, he is in the top ten in runs scored, hits, doubles, RBI, total bases and slugging. To those of you who want to discount his production because of the hitter-friendly environment, remember he was just as dominant in the pitching-friendly environments of the Florida State and Eastern Leagues.
While Matt Harvey may go down as the best pitcher the Mets have ever drafted and developed, Flores could very well be one of the top international free agent signings in franchise history joining Jose Reyes and Edgardo Alfonzo. Flores, unlike many other top prospects who have flopped during their rise through the minors, is the rare top prospect who is meeting and exceeding all expectations.