Wilmer Flores hasn’t played shortstop since 2011, when the Mets moved him off the position due to a lack of range and agility. Now, with the shortstop situation unsettled, both Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson have intimated that Flores will get some time at short during spring training.
According to Flores, who spoke with Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, he’s confident he can handle the position:
"Sure. I played there for four years. It’s not going to be a new position. I’m sure I can play."
Last season when Flores made his debut with the Mets, many fans clamored for him to be given a chance at shortstop. The company line then – and the opinion of pretty much every scout who’s watched Flores play – was that he wouldn’t be able to adequately handle shortstop in the big leagues. So, what has changed?
Sep 19, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets third baseman Wilmer Flores (4) throws to first during the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Well, Flores attended a fitness camp in Michigan this offseason. While at the camp, he worked on strength training and agility drills. If he has somehow gained a quicker first step, or his improved physique leads to him having better range, I suppose there’s a small chance Flores can find himself back at shortstop.
It’s important to again point out that Flores isn’t a poor defender all around – it’s simply his lack of agility/range that has hampered him. He has soft hands, and his arm at short would probably rate as average to a tick below.
Flores is viewed by many in the industry as someone who has plus tools offensively. Baseball Prospectus today ranked him 3rd on their top 10 Mets prospects list, and noted that he has the potential to be an above average regular.
If Flores is somehow able to stick at shortstop, his stock would only go up.
However, with Ruben Tejada in camp and the Mets still engaged in discussions regarding free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, the likelihood that Flores emerges as the choice at shortstop is slim. That doesn’t mean, though, that the possibility isn’t tantalizing.