Flores has never put up big numbers in the minors, but he is also one of those prospects who has always had the excuse of being young for his level, as he is spending his second year at High-A and doesn't turn 20 until August. That being said, his scouting reports are beginning to be a concern. As a player without much patience or power, much of his value revolves around his ability to hit for average, and as his .284/.329/.328 line suggests, he is still not doing enough of it, especially for whatever position he ends up at. “He's the worst shortstop I've ever seen... he couldn't play shortstop on my son's 10-year-old team,” said one scout who recently saw him in the Florida State League. “He obviously has some ability with the bat, but I don't like the swing or the approach, and I'm not sure he'll ever have much power,” he continued. “It's a bad bat, a bad athlete, and after clocking him at 4.75 seconds to first base while running all-out on a double play, I think he probably has to play first base, so he better hit.”First the news that Flores isn't going to play shortstop in the Major Leagues: not news.
The news that Flores isn't really fast: also not news.
The news here, and really the only news here, is that this scout doesn't like Flores' ability to hit. This is interesting, and deserves further elucidation.
As for the fallacy of using April numbers to suggest that a guy hasn't going to hit, or isn't going to hit, well after two more hits Monday night, Flores, still at age 19, is up to .297/.337/.338.
Last year, Flores did not draw a single walk, nor did he strike out for the first week of the South Atlantic League season. As he became more comfortable, he started drawing a few walks and finished April with 11 extra-base hits in his final 13 games in the month.
I made this point repeatedly last year, after Flores' late April-early May surge with Savannah, he slowed down considerably. On May 16, 2010, he was hitting .364/.418/.589 in 151 AB. In his next 126 SAL at bats, through the All-Star Game on June 21, he hit .175/.254/.246. It was at this point that he was promoted to St. Lucie where he finished up in the FSL and hit .300/.324/.415 with 18 doubles (good), and nine walks (not enough) in the final 67 games of 2010.
Playing most of the year as an 18-year old in 2010, Flores hit 36 doubles between the SAL and the FSL. That's pretty impressive.
Just last week, Friday, I think, I talked to a scout about Flores and Cesar Puello. I asked him if he had to pick one, which player would he choose. He hemmed and hawed, noting that Flores, was for him the safer pick. Wilmer he thought, was going to hit. The issue the scout noted, was that he might not have a position.
The vast majority of scouts I've talked to (and it's been a pretty considerable number) think Flores will hit some. They have all been concerned about his potential position. This really is a big issue moving forward.
The worst example of a guy who had to move off shortstop: Joel Guzman, who Ben Badler recently ranked as one of the greatest prospect disappointments ($) ever. Keep this in mind too. Miguel Cabrera, who's been listed elsewhere as Flores' best case comparable hit .274/.333/.421 as a 19-year old in the Florida State League in 2002 as a 19-year old. (The next season, at age 20, he crushed AA pitching at a .365/.429/.609 rate for 69 games before his MLB debut.) The fact that I could reference one of the game's great hitters and a complete bust of a prospect in the same paragraph without too much of a stretch again should point out the huge variance in outcomes around a 19-year old player.
I am not suggesting that Flores will turn into Miguel Cabrera on the field, but walking away from a 19-year old bat, or saying that he's not going to hit for power because of a slow month of April in the FSL, doesn't make much sense. Flores isn't a can't miss prospect because there's no such thing as a can't miss prospect.
The point is, if you liked Flores before Monday, you should still like him. If you were more concerned about his future power potential and a corresponding move down the defensive spectrum, well, you should still be concerned.