Prospect Notebook: Opportunity Opens For Wilmer Flores

Wilmer Flores

Wilmer Flores (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

Wilmer Flores, 2b/3b, Mets: Flores, who turns 22 tomorrow, is a talented prospect in the wrong organization. With David Wright signed through 2020, Flores has little hope to become the Mets’ third baseman of the future. So while Flores has been playing second base this year (with some occasional time at first) to try to find a spot for him, he’s spent the last two games with Triple-A Las Vegas back at third base with Wright going on the disabled list with an injured right hamstring. It’s his first action at third since April 15.

Las Vegas and the Pacific Coast League in general are inflating Flores’ .322/.358/.532 slash line through 106 games (including his 15th home run yesterday), but he has natural feel for the barrel and legitimate 15-20 homer power right now, with likely more as he matures physically. Flores’ range is stretched razor thin at second base and his bat doesn’t stand out as much if the Mets use him at first base, but with a temporary opening in New York at third base and Flores already on the 40-man roster, there’s a possibility Flores could be making his major league debut in the near future.

Ketel Marte, ss, Mariners: Marte is a sleeper in Seattle’s system—and he’s also the hottest hitter in the minors over the past week. In his last six games, Marte is 18-for-27 (.667), a stretch that has raised his season line to .296/.324/.356 through 92 games with low Class A Clinton. The 19-year-old has limited power and hasn’t driven a ball over the fence this year, but he has excellent bat control from both sides of the plate, good speed and plays quality defense at a premium position.

Dawel Lugo, ss, Blue Jays: After signing with the Blue Jays for $1.3 mililon out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, Lugo had a modest pro debut last year in the Rookei-level Gulf Coast League. He’s been better this season as an 18-year-old in the Rookie-level Appalachian League, where he went 3-for-4 yesterday after going 5-for-5 with a double and his sixth home run of the season on Saturday, bringing him to .309/.331/.500 through 42 games. Lugo has an aggressive approach that limits his on-base percentage, but he makes up for it with power and doesn’t swing and miss excessively. He has a heavier body type along the lines of Jhonny Peralta, so his bat potential makes him intriguing if he can stick as a playable shortstop.

Mike Olt, 3b, Cubs: Yesterday Olt had his best game since joining the Cubs organization, going 2-for-5 with a triple and a double for Triple-A Iowa. Otherwise it’s been a rough start for Olt with his new team, as he’s just 6-for-48 (.125) with two extra-base hits, two walks and 16 strikeouts. Olt was outstanding last year in Double-A, but he hasn’t been the same this season. There was talk of Olt having vision problems this year—he did get a concussion while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic last year—but whatever the source of Olt’s issues, he’s certainly trending in the wrong direction. With Olt’s raw power and what he brings to the table defensively, there’s still upside here if he can regain his 2012 form. It’s hard to say the Rangers sold high on him given his struggles this year, but he turns 25 this month and the concerns are continuing to grow.

Elier Hernandez, rf, Royals: Several teams thought Hernandez was the top international prospect available to sign on July 2 two years ago, when he landed a $3 million bonus from the Royals. There was also some concern that Hernandez would struggle initially against offspeed pitches, so it was a surprise when the Royals pushed him last year to the Rookie-level Pioneer League, where he understandably struggled. In his second year with Idaho Falls, the 18-year-old right fielder is showing the promise the Royals initially saw in him. He went 3-for-5 with a double and a triple yesterday, raising his season averages to .282/.342/.465 through 39 games.

Victor Roache, lf, Brewers: A broken left wrist essentially wiped out Roache’s junior season at Georgia Southern and prevented him from playing with the Brewers last summer after signing as the 28th overall pick in the draft. The rust was evident in the first half, when Roache struggled with strikeouts and wasn’t driving the ball with much authority. But Roache has picked it up in the second half, hitting .293/.353/.563 with 11 home runs in 42 games since the Midwest League all-star break, including home runs in each of his last two games to give him 17 on the year with low Class A Wisconsin. The contact rate is still worrisome, but it’s a good sign to see him taking his well-above-average power to game situations with greater frequency.