Amidst this crazy season, it’s easy to forget about a guy who most of upper management is hoping will be apart of the team’s future within the next few years. Flores, 19, is the prototypical Mets prospect in that he’s young and raw with unlimited amounts of potential. They signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Venezuela back in 2007, hoping he’d quickly find his way up to Flushing. It’s going into his fourth season and although he hasn’t jumped through the system like many had hoped, he still looks to have a bright future in the Majors.
The biggest weaknesses in his game stems mostly from his age. Flores lacks good patience at the plate, but has been slowly learning how to turn pitchers counts in his favor as he gets older. He still doesn’t walk enough for a guy who expects to be batting high in the order, but he also doesn’t strike out at a high rate. Even more so, his size leaves a lot to desire on the defensive side of the field at the premium position he plays. It’s been pretty much agreed upon by a lot of scouts that the Mets top prospect will have to move out of shortstop into the less-athletic demanding positions of 3rd and corner outfield where his size could be more of a benefit to him. Lastly, he doesn’t have a ton of speed having only 10 steals in his 4 year Minor League career.
On the flip side though, the biggest strength of Flores game is his bat. A career .281/.322/.395 hitter, Wilmer has started to show his true offensive potential the last couple of years. Last season he clubbed 36 Doubles with 11 Home runs and 84 RBI’s in 554 AB’s. He has quietly posted 3 Home Runs and 29 RBI’s this season to go along with a .265 Avg for the St. Lucie Mets. His offensive strong points include strong hands, being able to consistently put the ball in play, and hitting the ball hard into the gaps. The scary part is his pop has yet to fully develop. With age and more guidance, Flores could hit upwards of 25-30 Homers on a Major League club just years in the near future. His doubles have also shot up at each level which is a good sign of developing power.
With all the off the field headlines and other prospects performing up to their levels, Flores has gone largely unnoticed this season. He enjoyed just one season in the spotlight as the team’s top overall prospect in between the tenure’s of Fernando Martinez and Jenrry Mejia, and yet most fans don’t know much about the kid. Even this year with Mejia having gone down with his ligament tear, Flores has been overshadowed by fellow Mets farmhands Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia, who are having breakout seasons. It’s a shame that to Mets fans, Wilmer Flores may not be more than just another young Latin ballplayer with unlimited upside. Scouts are salivating at this kids potential. Kevin Goldstein has Flores at #98 on his Top 101, Keith Law of ESPN put him at #48 to start the year on his list of top 100 prospects (Insider article), and John Sickels gave him a B+ grade (the highest grade of any Mets farmhand) on his Top 20 Mets prospects list for the 2011 season.
The question remains about when Flores could become a regular contributor to a franchise that badly needs a bright spot. He doesn’t have a set position and since he is still so young (something we’ve heard before i.e Fernando Martinez), he has plenty of time to establish himself as a future Major Leaguer and not another bust. He hasn’t had ridiculously high expectations thrust upon him like other top prospects early into their careers and he is progressing at a steady rate. He’s not a guy who we’ll see this season, or a guy who will necessarily dominate the Majors quickly, but he’s a kid who works at his own pace and that has gotten him to top prospect status rather quickly. As long as there are distractions in the franchise, and sadly there probably will be, Wilmer Flores looks like a guy who can come up and surprise a lot of fans. Let’s just hope there will be some other big pieces to couple with this youngster in the near future so the Mets, and their fans, have something to look forward to.
To see some footage of Wilmer Flores hitting (Including an At-Bat against the Braves top Pitching prospect Julio Teheran) click here.