TRDM Top Prospect Countdown Number 2: Wilmer Flores
Most Mets fans already know the name Wilmer Flores, the teenager who checks in at number two on our list. Flores started his minor league career in 2008 at age 16, where it became obvious to everyone that the kid can hit; and now, he’s still just a kid and he can still hit. His incredible hand-eye coordination allows him to make contact just about anytime he wants to, but it’s his 6’3’’ frame and the power that is likely to come as he fills out that will make him an impact big leaguer, and that power appears to be on its way. Flores hit seven homeruns in the first half in Savannah last year, after hitting just three the entire season at the same level the previous year. He added four more homeruns during the second half of the season in St. Lucie. His double total was 36 in 2010, up from 20 in 2009, and his RBI total went from 36 to 84 over the past two seasons. At season’s end he finished with a .300 batting average for St. Lucie, which is a tremendous accomplishment for someone of his age in the pitcher friendly Florida State League.Expect Flores to return to the Florida State League to start 2011, since there’s no need to rush him, and there’s little precedent for putting teenagers in AA. However, if he continues to hit the way he did last year, it could be tough to keep him in St. Lucie the whole year. When Flores does make the jump to AA, whenever that may be, the question of his position on the field will come to the forefront. Thus far the Mets have been content to allow him to play shortstop, where his good hands and strong throwing arm have helped him greatly. However, his size and slow foot speed make it unlikely that he will be able to stay there, although he has worked hard to improve his foot speed and seems determined to stick at shortstop. Flores won’t be in Queens anytime soon. Since he won’t turn 20 until August, it should be at least two years until there’s any talk of it, probably more. However, when he makes that move to AA, possibly in 2011, the Mets will have to having serious discussions about where he will play in the field, which will have a major impact on his future role in the organization as well as his value as a future big league player.