BLUF: Still very young with excellent natural hitting ability and power projection befitting third base profile.
The Player: Wilmer Flores (SS, New York Mets) – Signed by the Mets and hit astonishing .310/.352/.490 in 59 games in Appalachian League as a 16-year old. Also saw action in New York-Penn and South Atlantic Leagues in 2008. Spent 2009 in Low-A with a .264/.305/.332 line despite being at least three years younger than league average. Returned to Savannah in 2010 and hit .278/.342/.433 before promotion to High-A St. Lucie around midseason. With St. Lucie, posted .300 average with 18 doubles and four home runs. Played 133 games at High-A in 2011 with .269/.309/.380 line at age 19. Spent part of another season in High-A this year, hitting .289 with ten bombs in 64 games. Has raked to the tune of .359 average and seven extra-base hits in 17 games since promotion to Double-A at 20-years old.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Industry Contacts
Body (6-3, 190): Good size. Above-average body. Good natural strength. Lower half has already thickened and could continue to do so. Below-average athlete though coordination is a plus.
Hit: Outstanding natural hitting ability. Makes really easy contact on anything around the strike zone. Ease of contact works against approach at the plate. Has made strides in pitch recognition and plate discipline, but still struggles at times. Can get “hacktastic” when he presses. Plus-plus bat speed and great hands at the plate. Works ball to all fields well and can drive it from line to line. Potential to hit .290+ at the big league level but approach is so raw he needs significant development. Can be Grade – 40/70
Power: Bat speed and natural strength give some power projection. Approach curtails in-game power due to excessive weak contact on pitches away from hitting zone. Still tapping into power more as he develops. If it all comes together, above-average power is possible, but may only manifest in occasional peak seasons. Should have plenty of doubles at a minimum. Grade (raw power) – 40/50
Arm: Plays above-average at third base with good carry and plenty of zip. Can throw from a variety of angles after playing shortstop and maintains accuracy while on the move at third base. Still learning 3B footwork and some throws can stray from the target as a result. Should play at above-average level most of the time. Grade – 50/50
Fielding: Moved off SS this year and it’s a good thing. Very good fundamental player with very soft hands for a guy his size. Plays well at 3B where he can rely on reactions rather than true range. Reads the ball well off the bat and has taken quickly to position. Should be a solid-average defender there long term but needs more polish at present. Grade – 40/50
Speed: Has slowed consistently since signing. Well below-average runner that may still slow half a tick as he reaches physical peak. May not play below that grade. Has solid base running instincts and shouldn’t be an overt problem when running. Grade – 30/30
Summation: Profile has improved with offensive gains and defensive move. Excellent raw hitting ability with continued growth in offensive approach. Should hit for average at any level with average power potential. Power could take a while to manifest at big league level, ultimately maxing in 25+ doubles and 15-20 home runs. Defense at third base should evolve to average level though occasional scout still believes he could end up at first base if he continues to thicken in lower half and lose mobility. Had potential to be a star as a shortstop but should be solid regular at third base.
Relative Risk: High. Still risk that hitting approach and body hold him back.
Future: Hitting well upon promotion to Double-A and should spend the rest of the year there. Will need next year to continue to polish game in Double- and/or Triple-A with potential big league arrival in 2014. Could be succession plan to David Wright at third base in New York.