MMO Prospect Pulse: Wilmer Flores, IF

If you believed everything that you’ve heard, you might be under the impression that we have the next Miguel Cabrera in our system. I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but I’m not signing up for that just yet. Does that mean I don’t believe in Wilmer Flores? Quite the opposite actually – I just don’t like putting lofty expectations on young players.

Flores is and has always been a highly ranked prospect in the Mets system. In 2007, Flores was signed as an international prospect out of Venezuela. He has been on Baseball America’s Top 100 prospect list for a little while now. Prior to the 2009 season, he was ranked 47th. He dropped to 88th and eventually moved his way back up to 59th pre-2011. He immediately drew comparisons to Miguel Cabrera. Unfortunately for the Mets, it looked like Flores was falling flat on the expectations that were placed on him.

His skill set includes an above average infield arm, and although he was originally signed as a shortstop  the consensus is that he will eventually move over to a corner infield position (3B or 1B) or maybe even a corner outfield spot. His reaction time is pretty solid and he has good hands at the position, so it makes sense to believe that Flores will be seeing much more time at 3B in the future. He actually saw more time at 3B than any other position in 2012, while also playing many games at 2B.

Flores’ real claim to fame, however, has been his bat. He has been described as having slow feet at times, and you hardly ever see him swipe a base. Overall, his offensive capabilities have always been looked as well above average – he has shown the ability to hit for a high average and his power has been developing over the years. He stands at 6’3” / 190 lbs at this point and at a ripe old age of 21, he still has some time to fill out his frame. The hope is that he will end up with above average MLB power as he fills out.

Although he sputtered slightly throughout his earlier years, it was masked by the fact he was playing against much older competition. He showed some promise in 2010 when,at age 18, he put up at .289/.333/.424 line across two levels. He had 11 home runs, 36 doubles, and drove in 81 runs, while scoring 62 of his own. His 2011 season was a little disappointing, but Flores came roaring back in 2012 while cruising through St.Lucie and onto Double-A Binghamton. And now he is following it up with some stellar play in Winter Ball.

In 2012, he posted a .300/.349/.479 slash line with 18 home runs, 30 doubles, and two triples. He drove in 75 runs and actually improved not only his batting average, but even his slugging percentage upon his promotion to Bingo. Read that again. Yes, after promotion, and finishing the year with almost an identical amount of at-bats in two levels, he actually IMPROVED across the board. He doubled his overall home run production from last year (18 v 9), and he set career highs in runs scored and walks while keeping his strikeout rate steady. He also approached his career high in hits and RBI in about 50 less plate appearances.

Take a glance at the stats down in Winter Ball, and the new consistent Wilmer Flores continues to impress. In 27 games, he is batting .307 (31-101) with three homers, seven doubles and eight runs batted in.

I still believe in the idea that his power will continuing to develop, and right now, he is already showing the potential to hit 20 home runs and 35 doubles consistently over a full season.

The star that shines for Wilmer Flores is extremely bright right now, and it actually seems to be getting brighter. It is plausible to say that his power might not improve, but even as a regular who can bat .290 and hit 20+ homers at third base or even as a corner outfielder, that still looks good as the worst possible scenario.

Wilmer Flores ETA: 2014