Scouting Report: C Jesus Flores

Flores Should Rebound In 2006

The Mets signed Jesus Flores as an international free agent out of Venezuela back in March of 2002. Widely considered the best all-around catching prospect in the Mets' farm system, Flores had a disappointing 2005 campaign after breaking his hand the day before the regular season started. Here's a scouting report on Jesus Flores.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Jesus Flores
Position: Catcher
DOB: November 26, 1984
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 185
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

From the beginning, Jesus Flores' first full professional season was a struggle. It didn't improve much as the year played out.

Considered the catching prospect with the highest ceiling in the Mets' system, the 21-year-old Flores earned an invitation to major league spring training after hitting .319 in 45 games with the Gulf Coast Mets in 2004.

A steady receiver with a quick release, Flores showed his mettle with the Mets' pitching staff, handling side workouts and showing just why one National League scout told Inside Pitch that Flores could probably handle the major leagues defensively right now.

That all came to a halt on April 3 at Washington's RFK Stadium, when Flores – brought north with the Mets to save Mike Piazza for the season opener in Cincinnati the next day – was hit by a pitch in the exhibition contest, breaking his thumb.

The setback stalled Flores' Single-A debut until May 13, and even after returning, Flores' offense showed few signs of the talent that earned him the organization's Sterling Award at Gulf Coast in 2004.

Hitting mostly fifth or sixth for Hagerstown, Flores finished June hitting .171 and didn't crack the Mendoza line for good until mid-August, wrapping the disappointing year with a .216 average in 82 games. Among his most striking statistics: 90 strikeouts in 319 at-bats, compared with just 12 walks.

One onlooker speculated that Flores might have been disappointed watching catchers Rafael Arroyo and Aaron Hathaway be promoted to St. Lucie, while Flores spent the entire year at Hagerstown.

But the Mets are prepared to look at 2005 as an off year for Flores, citing the broken thumb as a factor that could have simultaneously derailed Flores' spring and his confidence going into the long-season schedule at Hagerstown.

Privately, team officials feel that Flores' projection and professional build – at 6'1" and 180 pounds, Flores compares physically with many backstops already playing at the major league level – make up for any inefficiencies his offensive game may have showed in 2005.

He did hit for power and showed an ability to pop the ball to all fields, as evidenced by his seven home runs and 18 doubles in 319 at-bats; the Mets hope Flores will continue that progress in 2006.

Flores grew up in Venezuela idolizing Ivan Rodriguez and Andres Galarraga, and the Mets still see enough ceiling in the young backstop to suggest he may one day approach their career paths.

"Flores has the talent to become a frontline starting catcher at the big league level," one National League scout said. "He shows solid defensive ability with a plus arm. He has good plate coverage with above-average power, and should be able to hit for a high average with double digit HR production."

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2005

Hagerstown

.216

319

69

7

42

34

2

12

90

.250

.339

2004

Brooklyn

.333

6

2

1

3

1

0

0

1

.333

.833

2004

GCL

.319

141

45

4

25

16

1

8

26

.368

.532



Batting and Power. With his stock on the rise and all set to be Hagerstown's starting catcher to open up the 2005 season as one of their marquee players, Flores broke his hand in the Spring's final exhibition against the Nationals in Washington, D.C. and didn't make his season debut until mid-May. Once he returned it was like he had to start Spring Training all over again and never found his stroke. He pressed too hard this past season and struggled in all phases of his game, especially offensively.

Forget his 2005 performance. He's a much better hitter than he showed with the Suns and his horrific walk-to-strikeout ratio is clear indication that he was trying to hard. He's normally a patient hitter that waits for his pitches and he's strong enough to drive the ball to all fields. Flores did have 25 extra-base hits in a little more than 300 at-bats, displaying good power despite the injury.

Base Running and Speed. For a big catcher, Flores has some athletic ability. He doesn't have great speed, but it is decent for a catcher. He's an aggressive base runner who will take second base on balls hit softly in the gaps if the outfielders are not paying attention to him.

Defense. Flores' injury-filled season not only effected his offense, but it made him press behind the plate as well. He has a very strong arm with a quick release, but often times was trying to showcase his skills in 2005. Instead of letting the game come to him, he was pressing to make things happen. He's very adept at blocking balls thrown in the dirt and he takes charge behind the plate as the field general. Many scouts and the Mets are waiting to see a healthy Flores in 2006 to get a more accurate read of his defensive ability. His defense is good enough to be an everyday Major League catcher someday.

Projection. Even with the down year in 2005, Flores is arguably the most complete catching prospect in the Mets' farm system. He compares himself to Ramon Hernandez and like Hernandez, he's solid all-around. Flores hits with enough power and plays defense well enough to project to be a solid starting catcher at the Major League level someday. He'll have a better year in 2006 with the St. Lucie Mets, but it will also be a pivotal year for him to prove that his season with the Hagerstown Suns was an aberration.

ETA. 2009. Flores needs to rediscover the All-Star talent many believed he had prior to the unfortunate injury before the start of the 2005 season. He should see significant time with the St. Lucie Mets in 2006 and he's still on track to be Major League ready by 2009.

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