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Wilmer Flores: Tigers 2022 Minor League Player Of The Year



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Before High-A West Michigan manager Brayan Peña met righthander Wilmer Flores, he admittedly didn’t know much about the 21-year-old Venezuela native.

It didn’t take long for Flores to make a lasting impression.

“When he arrived in West Michigan, I remember it was like 40 degrees and he was pitching with no sleeve and just wearing his jersey,” Peña said. “Everybody was like, 'What? What is this guy doing?' I was like, 'Wow, this human is unique.' "

Flores is the younger brother of Giants infielder Wilmer Flores. He arrived in the U.S. in 2019 to attend Arizona Western JC. The Giants signed him in 2020 as a nondrafted free agent following the truncated five-round draft.

Flores rose to Low-A in 2021, striking out 72 in 53 innings, setting the stage for a move to West Michigan for Opening Day this season. After striking out 35 and walking two over 19.2 innings in the Midwest League, he moved quickly to Double-A Erie on May 19.

All told this season, Flores recorded a 2.79 ERA in 103.1 innings while notching 130 strikeouts and allowing 23 walks and 10 home runs.

Mixing a plus fastball and a plus curveball, Flores uses his sturdy 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame to generate an easy mid-90s heat.

“He's a complete pitcher when he uses his arsenal the right way,” Peña said. “He's a powerful pitcher. His No. 1 pitch is a fastball. At times this year, he reached 99 (mph), and he attacked hitters"

Peña noted that Flores showed the ability to hold his velocity deep into starts—and even find more in tight spots.

"He can be cruising at 94," Peña said, "and then when he's in the tough position, he can reach back and start throwing 97, 98.

“That's why (Flores) is a unique talent. Because at such a young age, for him to be able to do that, that says a lot about him.

“It says a lot about his future.”

TIGER TALES

— If slow and steady wins the race, then don't take yours eyes off 22-year-old outfielder Parker Meadows. The 2018 second-rounder out of high school—and younger brother of MLB outfielder Austin Meadows—hit .270/.346/.473 with a career-high 20 home runs while spending most of the season at Double-A Erie.

— After being shouldered with plenty of transition in 2021, righthander Reese Olson booked 119.2 innings with Double-A Erie this season. He struck out 168 batters while walking 38 to go with a 4.14 ERA and 1.23 WHIP.

Vinnie Pasquantino (Tracy Proffitt/Four Seam Images)

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