Prior to the New York Mets game on Friday night, manager Terry Collins said that Wilmer Flores will start to see more time in the starting lineup, insinuating that he will be the team’s every day shortstop for the remainder of the season. With his long-term future with the Mets far from certain, this could be the best chance for Flores to become an every day player for the Mets and solidify a permanent spot with the team moving forward.
Flores has been back and forth between Triple-A and the majors a few times since making his big league debut last August, but injuries prevented him from taking advantage of his opportunity to play last year. He’s been forced to share time at shortstop with Ruben Tejada this year, preventing either player from being the team’s every day shortstop. But with Tejada once again struggling, and the Mets with a large enough sample size from him to make a decision regarding his future with the team after the season, Collins appears to be ready to hand the reigns over to Flores for the remainder of the season.
What this means for Flores is the chance to prove that he can be an every day player in the big leagues, specifically at shortstop, where there is wide skepticism about his defense. With a line of .323/.367/.568 in Triple-A this season, Flores has nothing left to prove in the minors, but he’s never been able to be a consistent produce in the majors, and getting regular playing time will be his chance to change that.
Defensively, there’s no denying that Flores has below average range, but he’s made a fair amount of great defensive plays at shortstop while also possessing the arm strength for the position. No one will confuse him with a Gold Glove shortstop, but he may be good enough to play there if he can become the impact player offensively the Mets have always envisioned him becoming during his years as one of the team’s top prospects.
Shortstop is likely to be the Mets top priority this offseason, so this may be the last chance Flores gets to showcase himself at that position. If Flores avoids injury and Collins keeps his word about making him the regular shortstop, Flores will have roughly six weeks to prove that he could be the team’s every day shortstop looking ahead to 2015. It won’t be a long audition, but it may be all Flores will get. If he can’t shine between during now and the end of the season and make an impact for the Mets, his future in the big leagues and his future with the Mets will remain far from certain.