MMO Top 20 Mets Prospects – #8 Wilmer Flores, INF

Welcome to the 13th installment of the MMO 2012 Mets Top 20 Prospects list, featuring Wilmer Flores at #8. The Mets signed Flores as a 16-year-old IFA out of Venezuela in August of 2007. Since then he has appeared on Mets Top Ten Prospect lists everywhere from number ten, all the way up to number one. But Flores, now aged 20, is a player who is an enigma, and no one knows quite what to make of him. On the one hand, there is no doubt the guy has a sweet right-handed swing, and a quick bat. That much is evident just from watching him take batting practice. But despite this dynamic trait many question how he projects as a player, from this point moving forward.

Flores, at 6’3″ and 175 lbs., and still growing, should eventually develop plus power, but presently he is more of a gap-to-gap, line drive slasher, who goes the opposite way very well when the pitch calls for it. His swing incorporates good leg drive and hip rotation, with quick, strong hands, and explosive wrists, which will enable him to add power at the plate as he adds strength to his frame. Other than a well balanced swing, the other outstanding attribute for Flores is his ability to make solid contact. He has excellent hand-eye coordination, hits breaking pitches well, and projects to one day hit for a high batting average. It is the potential for this combination of contact ability and power, that has scouts so intrigued with Flores.

The negatives with Flores, are in foot speed and athleticism, and as a result, fielding ability. Flores has not yet grown into his body, and at times shows lack of coordination while in the field. His lack of speed makes covering the ground at shortstop, or in the outfield, a difficult thing for Flores. He has a good arm, adequate for 3B, but many feel he is destined to wind up with 1B as his landing spot one day. Up to this point, the Mets have been hesitant to move him off shortstop, but this winter Flores has been playing 3B in the VWL, which could be where he starts out next year.

Last year while playing at St. Lucie, high A, as a 19-year-old, Flores had 516 AB’s with 52 runs scored, 139 hits, 26 2B’s, 2 3B’s, 9 HR’s and 81 RBI’s, and his slash line was .269/.309/.380. For his minor league career, over four seasons, Flores is a lifetime .280 hitter with 31 HR’s and 243 RBI’s. The one solid stat from his 2011 season were his 81 RBI’s, which indicate a penchant for being able to drive in runs.

Flores is certainly still young and raw, but with 4 minor league seasons, and 1838 minor league at-bats, he has laid the foundation for what should be a very solid big league career someday. As he matures physically, his best position on the field will become clear, along with an emerging ability to drive the ball out of the yard. In the meantime, look for Flores to hit for a much higher average next season as he catches up in age to the other players around him, and adjusts to more advanced pitching. Hopefully he will transition well to a new defensive position that is better suited to his skill-set, which would move him a step or two closer to The Show. Next year will be crucial for Flores’ development, and with luck, I look for him to be a viable candidate to bring up to the Mets by September of 2013.

Wilmer Flores Video Links:    Swing

                                              Matt Harvey vs. Wilmer Flores ST 2011

Check back on Thursday when we unveil the #7 ranked player on our list!

2012 MMO Top 20 Prospects

8.   Wilmer Flores              INF

9.   Cesar Puello                RF

10.  Reese Havens             2B

11.  Cory Mazzoni             RHP

12.  Jordany Valdespin      INF

13.  Darin Gorski               LHP

14.  Phillip Evans              SS

15.  Jefry Marte                  3B

16.  Collin McHugh           RHP

17.  Juan Urbina               LHP

18.  Akeel Morris              RHP

19.  Michael Fulmer          RHP

20.  Danny Muno               INF