Ben Badler of Baseball America put Mets prospect Wilmer Flores at the top of today’s Prospect Notebook. Badler notes that Flores is a very talented prospect that has the unlucky fortune of being in the Mets organization. Why is that? He’s a natural third baseman, but New York now has David Wright signed through 2020, effectively blocking Flores’ path to the majors at his natural position.
He’s played a lot of second base in Triple-A for the Las Vegas 51s this season, but scouts have said his range at that position is a stretch. However, he’s recently been penciled in at third base by manager Wally Backman. Here’s what Badler had to say about the prospect, who is turning 22-years-old tomorrow:
So while Flores has been playing second base this year (with some occasional time at first) to try to find a spot for him, he’s spent the last two games with Triple-A Las Vegas back at third base with Wright going on the disabled list with an injured right hamstring. Las Vegas and the Pacific Coast League in general are inflating Flores’ .322/.358/.532 slash line through 106 games (including his 15th home run yesterday), but he has natural feel for the barrel and legitimate 15-20 homer power right now, with likely more as he matures physically. Flores’ range is stretched razor thin at second base and his bat doesn’t stand out as much if the Mets use him at first base, but with a temporary opening in New York at third base and Flores already on the 40-man roster, there’s a possibility Flores could be making his major league debut in the near future.
For right now, the Mets are planning on using both Josh Satin and Justin Turner at third base while David is on the disabled list. It was noted that both could stand to get some more consistent at-bats to stay fresh. While there is truth and value to that, I don’t know why the Mets won’t promote Flores to play third base right now. I know his range is an issue, but his bat is clearly ready.
New York lost both games since Wright strained his hamstring on Friday night, and they could certainly use a boost after an embarrassing loss Sunday against the Kansas City Royals. Promoting Flores would create at least a little excitement in the clubhouse, hopefully allowing them to not think about being without Wright for about the next month. With today’s off day in Flushing, I wonder how the conversations will go in the front office; one would have to assume there has been ongoing debates regarding Flores.
At this point in the season, it will be nice to see what he can do at the big league level before Wright returns to the lineup. We won’t truly find out what kind of value he has until he faces big league pitching. If he proves he can hit, that will force the Mets to either eventually find a spot for him next year, or it will allow them to use him as a potential trade chip in the winter. The only way to find this out is to promote him and insert him into the lineup every day for the next few weeks.