During the Winter Meetings it looked like Ike Davis would not be with the New York Mets come spring training. While those rumors seemed to gain ground each day of the meetings, they never came to fruition. Even the possibility of a possible package deal including Daniel Murphy could not get a deal done with possible suitors. This means that Murphy will be manning the second base position again, and Davis will most likely battle with Lucas Duda at first. With these two positions seemingly filled for the time being, that leaves Wilmer Flores in a precarious situation.
Last season I pushed for Flores to come up after putting up a solid triple slash of .321/.357/.531 for the Las Vegas 51s of the Pacific Coast League. While the PCL has been known to inflate offensive numbers, Flores was known to hit at all levels of the minor leagues, so to me it meant that Flores is a consistent threat with the stick.
When he came up to the big club towards the end of 2013, Flores started out on a tear and endeared himself to the fan base (or me at least) when he hit a bases-clearing double in just his second game. Later that week, he showed off his power potential when he hit an opposite field homer on the road against the Diamondbacks, the first of his career. He had one of the strongest first weeks a Met rookie ever had, and I, as many other fans of the team, were thrilled to see what he could do while filling in for the injured David Wright.
It seems like something typical of the Mets that nothing good lasts long, and of course this happened with Flores too. After hitting that homer in Arizona, the 22-year-old rolled his ankle while running to third base during the following series. After that game, he missed some time, and for the rest of the season did not look like the same player. It was disappointing to see that, but I think the injury had more to do with his struggles than some might think.
Heading into the offseaon, I had a gut feeling the Mets would make a package trade that would include the young infielder, but that never happened. Instead, he was sent to an offseason conditioning camp along with some other Mets, as well as competing in the Venezuelan Winter League. During his winter season, Flores raked at the plate, hitting well over .300. At the training camp, Flores looked to get a bit quicker and agile, something that has been a noted weakness of his.
But with most of the lineup either penciled in or already in position battles, there seems to be little room for the Mets’ No. 4 prospect, according to MLB.com.
With the uncertainty or Ruben Tejada and the likelihood the Mets don’t end up signing Stephen Drew, Flores has been talked about as a person to get some time at shortstop during spring training. While this is technically his natural position, Flores has strayed away from short because of the lack of range. It should be interesting to see if he has any increased foot speed after his offseason workouts, and I’m definitely not opposed to giving him a shot to compete with Tejada.
If Flores proves he still can’t handle playing in the middle infield, what can be done with the youngster? First base seems to been pretty crowded already, and Murphy has solidified second base as his own. I love the potential with his bat, and would hate to seem him start the year in Triple A, especially since he looks ready to play at the Major League level. If Davis or Duda really end up looking horrendous at the plate during spring training, maybe you’ll see Wilmer get some time there as well, but right now it just seems Flores doesn’t have a spot on the big club, which is just a shame to me.