Our season in review series continues with a look at Wilmer Flores.
Aug 31, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores (4) bats against the Philadelphia Phillies during a game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The time was now to shine for the young ballplayer, having been a minor leaguer since signing an international free agent deal with the Mets in 2007, when he was 16. The shortstop position wasn’t taken care of last off season, and the Mets opted to give Ruben Tejada a chance to prove 2013 was a fluke. Though he did prove he is a useful backup on a good squad, too much starting time was allotted to the guy, especially after the Mets had supposedly brought up Flores in May, only to see Ruben back in the starting gig after a walk off hit. Wilmer Flores had nothing left to prove at the lower levels, and though he at first struggled through sporadic playing time, he eventually got the opportunity to settle into consistent big league innings. Despite concerns about his defense, Flores held his own over there amidst the “he’s too much of a defensive liability” talk. In the end, Wilmer Flores showed enough to be a viable offensive option at shortstop next season.
How He Fared in 2014:
Wilmer began the year on the team as an extra infielder with some injuries in the bullpen, going 0-4 on April 2nd. He was sent down and did what he usually does, which is continue to hit above .300 down below without getting a longer look above. He was brought back on May 9th, prepared to be the everyday shortstop; only Ruben Tejada, for a mere millisecond, looked like the call-up motivated him, and Terry ran with it. Tejada continued performing below replacement level, and though Wilmer did hit a mammoth grand slam to put the Phillies away on June 2nd, he never got a chance to settle in, finishing the stint with a .225 AVG before getting sent down for more playing time. He once again raked in Vegas, and the Mets called him up once more on July 24th, though it still took a few days for the consistent playing time to arrive. By August 2nd, he started collecting his hits, and went from a season low .218 on July 26th to finish with a .251 AVG, 6 HR and 29 RBI, a .286 OBP and a helped-by-his-final-push .378 SLG.
Areas to Improve Upon:
He seems to be a natural hitter who adjusts accordingly, and so as long as he keeps getting the looks and working hard, his MLB hitting should come fine. It’s the defense that has most people concerned, though I personally thought he held his own over there. He needs to keep adjusting to the speed of the game up here up the middle, and make his stretches count more. The arm is pretty solid, so keep that consistent and we may have something here.
Projected Role in 2015:
I think its safe to say the Mets have enough confidence in Wilmer’s potential to hit that they feel comfortable going other directions other than short in their pursuits via trades and free agency. They desperately need a cost-controllable power-hitting outfielder, so I will say Wilmer will be the starting shortstop for the New York Mets next year- unless…
Contract Status and Trade Rumors:
He’s pre-arb eligible, so Wilmer Flores will once again get paid the league minimum next year. There is always the chance the Mets finally pass him along in a trade, as teams I am sure are still asking about the young hitter. Most likely, the Mets will keep giving Wilmer a look knowing there is a chance Matt Reynolds may be able to slot right in there if he continues to rake down below and Flores struggles. What a year to ponder what will be of the Mets come Spring…