Catcher Daniel Flores, one of the most promising prospects in the Red Sox’s farm system, died on Wednesday from complications from cancer, the team announced. He was 17 years old.
The Red Sox announced the news Wednesday afternoon, stunning many around the game.
Flores was considered one of the most promising young catchers to come out of Venezuela in years and was one of the best prospects in the Red Sox’s system. Scouts had long raved about his defensive ability, as Ben Badler conveyed in his pre-July 2 reports. Many scouts said he was the best international catching prospect they had seen since Gary Sanchez. He ranked No. 2 on the Baseball America Top 50 International Prospects list this year. Some scouts considered him the No. 1 player.
“He’s the best defensive catcher I’ve ever seen at that age,” said one international director.
He’s not alone. Scouts who loathe hyperbolic, sensationalized reports heap enormous praise on Flores’ skill behind the plate.
“Defensively,” said a second scout, “the stuff he was doing behind the plate with his receiving, exchange, footwork, pop times—I’ve never seen that out of an international amateur catcher. It was very polished.”
“In my years of scouting, he’s the best catch-and-throw guy I’ve ever seen. He has the best release. It’s a plus-plus catch-and-release with a plus arm. He just stands out defensively. I wouldn’t argue with you if you put him No. 1 on your list, and I didn’t even see the hitting ability that other people saw,” said another scout.
“He’s probably the best July 2 player I’ve ever seen,” said another scout. “I saw Gary Sanchez. I saw Miguel Sano. This guy at the same age does more than those guys did. And he raked for us in games. He was always squaring balls up in the gaps.”
Because he signed just this past July, Flores was not slated to make his minor league debut for the Red Sox until 2018. But he had already made an impact on a number of Red Sox’s scouts and coaching staff with his easy-going, hard-working nature.
“Everyone at the Red Sox was shocked to hear of Daniel’s tragic passing,” Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. “To see the life of a young man with so much promise cut short is extremely saddening for all of us. On behalf of the Red Sox organization, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to Daniel’s family.”
“Every member of our organization who got to know Daniel absolutely loved him,” assistant general manager Eddie Romero said. “He was energetic, hard-working, and genuinely selfless, always with a smile on his face. He cared for his teammates and was a natural leader. I’m at a loss for words today. Daniel was an impressive young man with limitless potential, and his life was cut far too short.”