At just 22-years-old, Wilmer Flores is a post-hype prospect who lost his Top 100 status in 2011 and immediately started to perform like one of the league’s best. Called up on Tuesday for the Mets, Flores could be a great late-season get if he can translate his recent success to the Bigs.
Flores was signed as an international free agent in 2007 at just 16-years-old and made an immediate splash in the Appalachian League, putting up a .310/.347/.468 line with eight home runs, 25 XBH, 42 RBI, and 40 R over 68 games. Baseball America dubbed him the #47 top prospect in the country for that performance and he shot up the Mets prospect board quickly.
The following season was a massive step back as he played the entire year in Single-A. His line dropped to .264/.305/.332 with just three homers, 36 RBI, 25 XBH, and 44 R in 125 games. Baseball America took note but was still optimistic, dropping him to the #88 top prospect in the country.
He returned to his promising self in 2010, splitting his season between Single-A and High-A. Over 133 games, Flores put up a .289/.333/.424 line with 11 HR, 84 RBI, 50 XBH, and 62 R, returning to the Top 60 Baseball America prospects.
Then, another season, another setback. Playing the full season in High-A, Flores put up a .269 line/.309/.380 line with just nine home runs but a respectable 81 RBI and 52 R. Baseball America dropped him from the Top 100 prospects altogether and he hasn’t appeared on the list since. That’s ironic because ever since he’s played as well as any minor league infielder in the country.
Flores broke out in 2012. He began his season in High-A and responded with a .289/.336/.479 line and 10 HR, 42 RBI, 22 XBH, and 31 runs over 64 games. He earned a mid-season promotion to Double-A where he excelled further. In 66 games, Flores put up a .311/.361/.494 line with eight home runs, 28 XBH, 33 RBI, and 37 R over 66 games.
Seeing the promise return, Flores began 2013 in Triple-A and has proven that at 22, he’s ready for The Show. Through 107 games, Flores owns a .321/.357/.531 line with 15 HR, 86 RBI, 55 XBH, and 69 R.
As soon as David Wright hit the disabled list with a knee injury, the Mets looked Flores’ way to man third for at least three-to-five weeks. A former shortstop, Flores’ defense is suspect but his bat can certainly go a long way in replacing Wright in the Majors and in fantasy.
There’s two things I like a lot about Flores. He isn’t a power hitter, he’s a doubles hitter who sometimes hits home runs. CitiField is a terrible place for a power hitter but it’s a great place for a gap hitter who put up 50 XBH last season and has 55 XBH this year. The other thing I like is his ability to improve every time he is promoted. All of the struggles he saw were, ironically, when he had to repeat a level. When he was promoted, something inside him sparked and he proved he belonged. Unlike other prospects, I think Flores can hit the ground running quickly.