He may be just 22 years old, but Wilmer Flores won’t be the first New York Mets’ prospect to will take part in major league Spring Training. However, it will be the first time he has a legitimate chance of earning a spot on the opening-day roster. The problem for Flores is that he still doesn’t have a clear-cut defensive position, so what role he could potentially have on the Mets this season remains uncertain.
Last year in triple-A, Flores his .321/.357/.531, leaving him little left to prove in the minors. He earned a promotion to the big leagues late in the season and had over 100 at bats, but was held back by an ankle injury. However, the Mets still don’t have a plan for Flores with regard to how he fits into their future plans, with is a problem for both Flores and the Mets.
Flores has played primarily at second base over the past two seasons, but Daniel Murphy has that position locked down for the Mets, and if the Mets were to move Murphy to make room for someone else, it would likely be Eric Young Jr. Flores has the arm to play third base, but barring an injury to David Wright, there is no chance of him playing there.
The most open position in the Mets’ infield this year is first base, and so the best chance for Flores to make the team out of spring training would be as the right-handed half of a platoon at first base with either Ike Davis or Lucas Duda. However, Josh Satin is seen as the favorite to win that spot, and out of all the infield positions, Flores has played first base the least during his time in the minors, so his defense there could be a concern.
In an interesting development, Mets manager Terry Collins has said that he will give Flores playing time at shortstop during spring training, as Flores reportedly improved his quickness and agility while attending a strength, conditioning and nutrition camp during the offseason. The Mets do have an opening for a backup middle infielder, but despite starting his career as a shortstop, Flores has a lot to prove defensively at those positions in order to win that job.
The Mets know one thing about Flores, and that one thing is that he can hit. But they still don’t know where to put him defensively, which is going to hurt his chances of making the team out of Spring Training, barring an injury to someone else. There are a couple roster spots up for grabs this spring that Flores could possibly win with an impressive performance, but the role he’s most likely to have at the start of the 2014 season is that of cleanup hitter at triple-A.