A+Perhaps the Mets prospect who engenders the most passionate reactions, rightly or wrongly, is 20-year old shortstop Wilmer Flores, who manned the position for 129 of St. Lucie's 140 games in 2011. Flores hit a superficially unimpressive .269/.309/.380 in 133 games. The most impressive thing he did make contact: he fanned in just 12.2% of his at-bats. That was fifth in the Florida State League among all qualified batters. Also, he was the 11th youngest player in all of advanced-A at 19.92 years. That's the good stuff.
On the downside, his walk rate of 4.8% was the 9th-lowest in the FSL. His isolated slugging percentage was just .110 and his extra-base hit rate declined slightly from 8.4% overall in 2010 to 6.6% in 2011. Bottom line offensively: he can make contact, but he must develop his secondary skills - the ability to draw walks and hit for power.
Defensively, he committed 20 errors, after 26 in Savannah and St. Lucie over a similar number of games in 2010. The errors aren't the issue with Flores' defense. His hands are good. His arm is strong. I just don't see the footspeed for him to play shortstop everyday in the big leagues. Few scouts do.
After splitting time between second base and shortstop early in the 2011 season, SS Wilfredo Tovar took over the position full-time after Robbie Shields moved first to second base and then to advanced-A St. Lucie. Tovar turned 20 in August, five days after Wilmer Flores. I simply love watching Tovar play defense. He's tiny - listed at 5'10" 160 - but has range to both sides and superior body control. He has the arm and hands for short. He'd turn in a spectacular play every few days at short. His 20 errors, were often a case of trying to do too much - a combination of judgement and skills, like forcing a throw on a double-play turn, rather than simple physical mistakes. Will he ever hit enough to play everyday? He hit .251/.318/.318. His strikeout rate of 9.8% was the fourth-lowest among all SAL batters. He also walked in 8.1% of his plate appearances, a very healthy number for a 20-year old.
Just for reference, for both players, in his age 19 season, Ruben Tejada was hitting .229/293/.296 in St. Lucie. He followed that up by hitting .289/.351/.381 in double-A Binghamton in 2010 playing the full season at age 20.
I might be crazy, but I think the gap between Flores and Tovar is much smaller than people realize. Tovar's the far superior defender, who's shown better plate discipline already. Flores has more power, but will have to move off of shortstop.