There is no argument that Wilmer Flores possesses one of the most potent bats in the Mets minor league system, earning him a spot in every Mets top 10 prospect list that has been published this offseason.

The 21-year-old Flores made great strides in his game last year, finishing with a .309/.349/.479 slash line splitting time between Hi-A St. Lucie and AA Binghamton, career bests in all three categories.  What’s even more impressive is that Flores hit slightly better at AA, posting a .311/.361/.494 slash; excellent considering the average age in the Eastern League is 24.

At 6’3”, 190 lbs., Flores still is a little lanky and his frame should continue to fill out in the coming years and along with it, even more power should develop, making Flores a potential offensive juggernaut.

The biggest knock on Flores is his lack of a defensive position.  He was originally a shortstop, but his inept fielding at that position forced him to be moved, splitting time at third and second base in 2012, with somewhat better results.  His below-average speed and range coupled with a strong throwing arm profile better at third base, but David Wright has a stranglehold at that position in the majors.  His defense at second base was passable in 2012, but 27 games is hardly a large enough sample size to definitively say that Flores can stick there.

In a perfect world, Flores would be able to play second base competently and be allowed to further develop before being called up to the Mets sometime in late 2014 or early 2015.  After all, if the Mets are going to have a second baseman who can hit but not play particularly good defense, the one with power is a better option.

This would finally settle the Mets’ decade-long quest for a second baseman to competently replace Edgardo Alfonzo[1], and would address their need for more right-handed power in the lineup.

If it turns out that Flores can’t handle second base, the team will have no other choice but to stick him at either third or first base, both of which are currently occupied by Wright and Ike Davis, respectively.  Since moving Flores to the outfield is not an option owing to his poor defense; his role with the Mets would transition from a future regular in the lineup to a trade chip.

When the team is finally looking to buy, Flores could be the centerpiece of the deal.  The market for Flores will be limited, unfortunately, since team picking up Flores would have to be either an American League team, who would use him at DH, or to a team in need of a corner infielder.

Sound off in the comments:  Should the Mets play Wilmer Flores at second base when he’s ready despite how bad the defense may be, or should they look to trade him to address another team need (e.g. outfield)?


Follow Joe Vasile on Twitter at @JoeVasilePBP

17 comments on “What should the Mets do with Wilmer Flores?

  • Chris F

    For sure. Hes perfect trade bait, and thats exactly what will have to happen. He has no opportunity on the big club. By one means or another, we have a good player that we cant use…lets see what we can package in and get something back.

    • ralph valent

      you do not trade a young player with thease stats,leave him in the minors to develop. play him at misc posistions for now ! get real 1

  • David Groveman

    “but his inept fielding at that position” I take issue with this because it wasn’t that he was inept. He’s a big kid and not physically nimble enough to field the position.

    The best time to trade Flores will be this season around the trade deadline (assuming Flores hits well in Las Vegas)

    • Joe Vasile

      Noted. He should hit well in Las Vegas, a very hitter friendly park in the hitter friendly PCL, so his stats may even be inflated a little bit, so take his 2013 stats with a grain of salt.

  • Jerry Grote

    Looking at the other prospects in the MiLB, don’t you think Flores instantly becomes #2 or @3 prospect at the position if he moves to 2B?

    A valuable trading piece … but at least initially, I like the thought of keeping him. The Mets need someone to spell Wright. The guy works on fumes every August, they overplay the crap out of him and he fails down the stretch.

    Having someone that can spell both Murphy and Wright and do it without taking an extreme hit in the box score is a damned good thing.

    • J

      In this case, if they didn’t trade him at the deadline he could establish a little more value by hitting at the major league level as we rest Wright. Could also hurt his value if there are flaws (fixable or not) in his game at the major league level.

      • Joe Vasile

        Yes. Remember Lastings Milledge: the Mets could have traded him in 2006 for Barry Zito (then with the A’s). Bringing Zito in would have helped the team greatly not only in the postseason but beyond (e.g.- They probably never trade Xavier Nady for Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez). Instead, they held onto him, rushed him to the majors, his flaws were exposed and his trade value plummeted to the point that Omar Minaya eventually sent him packing for only Ryan Church and Brian Schneider. Would hate to have a similar thing happen with Flores.

    • Joe Vasile

      I also like the idea of keeping Flores, especially if his defense can improve to a point where it is feasible that he can play every day. If that is the case I can see him replacing Murphy in the lineup sometime in 2014.

  • Mike Koehler

    I’m probably the odd man out here, but I like Murphy. Unless something drastic happens, I’d rather trade Flores and hold onto Murph.

    • Joe Vasile

      Don’t get me wrong, I love Murphy too, it’s just that Flores has a much higher offensive ceiling than Murphy, so he is a more attractive option. Flores could put up 5+ WAR All-Star caliber seasons in his prime, Murphy is a solid 2-3 WAR guy.

    • Peter Hyatt

      I’m a Murphy fan. D and O both.

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  • Brian

    If our top minor league hitting prospect is as good a hitter as he seems, and is blocked at the only two positions he could possibly play for the Mets because of questionable defense, our best move is to trade him for a Major League ready prospect that fits our needs better.
    My concern is if we put him at 2nd base it would be a square peg in a round hole. At this point, I have enough faith in Alderson to bring back the best haul in a trade involving Flores.

    • Joe Vasile

      I have the same faith that you do, but what I think is most likely is they play Flores at 2B and 3B this year in Las Vegas, and if he plays passable defense at 2nd, he stays, if not, he goes.

  • Michael Geus

    I want him to be given a real chance at second. If he can play a passable second his value explodes. If not it barely changes as long as he continues to hit.

  • Metsense

    Today I would consider trading him in a package for an impact bat like Upton or Stanton. He could also be involved in a lesser trade of major league players where the Mets end up with the other teams highly regarded outfield prospect. If the two above unlikely scenarios never present themselves then play him at 2B at AAA and hope he keeps developing because ,as the author has stated, he has the potential to be better than Murphy.

  • Tneo

    He has a strong arm, but has he ever been tried in right field? What do they have to lose by starting him there in AAA this season? If he’s competent in RF, this solves a major hole for many years.

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