Wilmer Flores: It’s Time For Another MLB Debut

wilmer flores

The Mets offense at the big league level has been pathetic recently. Actually, pathetic is probably the nice way to put it. Their inability to do anything at the plate was once again highlighted in last night’s affair, as Dillon Gee drove in the only run of the game for New York in their heartbreaking 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

With that being said, the lineup is in dire need of a boost. Over the weekend, Sandy Alderson stated in a Q&A with fans at Citi Field that top prospect Wilmer Flores could be promoted to the big leagues at any time. If you’re asking me, any time should be right now.

In 264 at-bats this season (67 games played) with the Las Vegas 51s, Flores is hitting an impressive .314/.356/.504 with seven home runs and 54 RBIs. He’s collected a total of 83 hits in 2013, including 23 doubles and three triples in addition to those seven round-trippers.

Flores experienced a slow start in April (.269 BA in 93 ABs), but has since turned it on, adjusting nicely to Triple-A pitching. The month of June has been a monster one for him; he’s put together a .400/.431/.633 line in 60 at-bats. Um, what?!

With Alderson’s recent comments about Flores, it’s clear the front office has taken notice of what the 21-year-old has done with the bat. The PCL is a notorious hitter’s league, but his 2013 season is coming on the heels of a year in which he hit .300 with 18 homers and 75 RBIs, splitting his time with St. Lucie and Binghamton.

If it’s time to see Flores at the big league level, who will be the one sent down to make room for him? My vote is for Jordany Valdespin. Now that Justin Turner is on the disabled list, sending Valdespin back to the minors would leave the shortstop position thin outside of Omar Quintanilla. However, it’s not as if JV1 is considered a solid defender at short, to begin with.

Valdespin is hitting .207/.264/.328 in 116 at-bats with the Mets this season, and is hitting just .188 in his last ten games, which include playing second base consistently for the last week so the team could find out what value he has. Instead of letting him sit on the bench for Terry Collins to use him as a pinch hitter, why not bring a fresh face into the clubhouse that could provide a jolt a struggling offense?

Thoughts from Satish R.

Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this. Flores is definitely talented offensively — and always has been. Where does he play when we call him up? Murphy is comfortable at second base and is hitting well. I suppose we could slot Flores in at second, Murphy at first, and Duda in left field…but defensively, that is really undesirable.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Flores — and I think his bat will carry him to great heights because he’s eventually going to stick at second base. After all, where else do we put him…first base? Plus, I actually look at Jordany Valdespin as part of the solution so sending him down wouldn’t be worth it in my eyes. He hasn’t even got an extended look.

Flores can hit, and he probably will. Considering Valdespin probably won’t get the extended look that I desire for him, I guess we should give Flores his fair due. He could be a jolt for life for this lineup…god knows we need a little right-handed pop.

Thoughts from Joe D.

After Sandy Alderson’s first two drafts and his two signature trades, Wilmer Flores toppled from the team’s Number One ranked Mets prospect to not even appearing in many a Top 5 or 10.

It was a steep fall for the young infielder as names like Gavin Cecchini and Brandon Nimmo were now part of the “In” crowd leaving Flores on the outside looking in.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at Detroit Tigers

What happened in 2012 that saw Flores’ stock fall so sharply? Was he regressing at the plate?

The answer is no. Flores actually delivered his finest season as a pro in 2012, batting a combined .300/.349/.479 in 497 at-bats for Advanced-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton earning him All-Star recognition and player of the year honors.

The extra-base power scouts have always said would come, arrived in full force as Flores stroked 30 doubles and walloped 18 home runs at the ripe old age of 20-years old.

Further adding to his remarkable season was that he was now striking out less and walking far more than at any time since he turned pro in 2008 at age 16.

Now at 21, Flores is the youngest position player in the PCL and sports a .314/.356/.504 batting line with 23 doubles, 3 triples and 7 home runs with two-thirds of the season still to play.

Last week, Sandy Alderson said he has absolutely no problem leaving Flores at second base. “He has the arm, and the leather, and can turn the double play.”

His range isn’t as good as some of the top second basemen in the league, he said, but it’s no worse than Murphy which is acceptable to me.

From day one, Alderson has always said that he and his lieutenants viewed second base as an offensive position and not a defensive one. He wasn’t kidding, as he threw an untested Daniel Murphy at second, much to the shock of many fans. The results? We’ve seen how well Murphy has evolved and taken to the position. Why wouldn’t Flores, who has played mostly shortstop as a pro, not make the transition just as easily?

I spoke to B-Mets manager Pedro Lopez last year, who sees Flores as a legitimate force at the plate whose bat will be his stock in trade in the major leagues.

A scout I spoke to during this past spring training also added that Flores’ limitations with range won’t keep him from becoming a star in the majors.

“His defensive shortcomings are overrated and his bat is still surprisingly underrated. Flores is something special when you put a bat in his hands and his power will continue to grow.”

Yesterday, I heard rumblings that Jordany Valdespin could be optioned to Triple-A before the Mets’ next homestand and as soon as the middle of this Braves series.

I hope this opens the door for Flores to join the team and if it does happen, I look for him to get the majority of playing time for the rest of this season and work himself into an everyday role in 2014.

After David Wright, Flores may end up being the best bat the Mets have right now. With the front office frantically considering their options for adding more offense at the trade deadline and next off-season, Flores is now frequently mentioned by the front office as part of their future. That wasn’t the case a year ago.