Detroit Tigers top 30 Prospects for 2023: #7 Wilmer Flores
Detroit Tigers top 30 prospects for 2023: No.7 - Wilmer Flores
Perhaps one of the more intriguing prospects in the Detroit Tigers organization is right-handed pitcher Wilmer Flores. After a big season in 2022, Flores has vaulted himself up the organization's ranks and has seen himself go from an undrafted free agent to a top prospect on the farm system.
While there is a lack of consensus on the Tigers farm system amongst media outlets, the Motor City Bengals staff have Wilmer Flores clocking in at no.7 on the team's top 30 prospects list. Flores is heading into his second full season and third season with the organization.
He's also fresh off of a season where he took home several accolades with the Double-A Erie SeaWolves, including being named Minor League Player of the Year in 2022, according to Baseball America.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound pitcher had a great season. Flores had time with the SeaWolves and the High-A West Michigan Whitecaps. Flores made the majority of his starts with Double-A which amounted to 19 starts. He accumulated 83.2 innings pitched, managing a 3.01 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. He did that all while punching out 95 and surrendering just 21 walks.
In his time with West Michigan, Flores made five starts with one relief appearance, totaling 19.2 innings pitched. He managed a 1.83 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP and punched 35 strikeouts while walking just two. He was dominant on the mound and is looking to carry that success into 2023.
Let's dive into Flores and his makeup a bit more.
Flores starts with a side step working into a leg lift around the letters with some coil in the delivery. He tends to favor the first base side of the mound, setting up that way for the most part. He gets extended a good bit, at least enough to create some trunk tilt and force his center of mass to drive out on top of that lead leg working through release.
He throws from a higher three-quarters arm slot that can be a little more of plain three-quarters bc of the trunk tilt as he delivers the pitch. It is a full arm stroke through the back, but he is whippy through release.
In terms of a pitch mix, it's a four-pitch repertoire that is primarily a three-pitch attack. The fastball can live in the mid-90s, and he's shown the ability to reach back for 98 mph as needed. It's a bigger/physical RHP frame, standing 6-foot-4, 225 pounds.
The fastball command continues to improve, but it is an area he still needs to iron out. It can sometimes be a bit flat but works well off his other pitches to tunnel. It rides when elevated and can induce chases above the zone.
Because of his release height, it plays well off of his cutter, which is in the mid-80s with horizontal break and a similar flight to the fastball out of the hand. It has some tilt to it, creating some depth, but it is a mid-80s pitch he will turn to, pairing off the fastball.
His third offering is the breaking ball, which, when it's on, it's on. The pitch has great bite to it and could easily be his go-to secondary offering, but there needs to be more consistency to the pitch. Again, playing out of the same slot/release as the fastball, it can be worrisome for hitters to track it, disappearing with that 11-5 fade, pretty much 12-6 with a little bit of angle to it.
If he can snap that pitch off better in 2022, with better command, he may be able to continue seeing some success. The final offering is the change-up which is his fourth offering and is barely used.
He's confident in the breaking ball and will throw it in any count. One of his calling cards as a starter. Being able to command his pitches better overall might help him take that next step as a Tigers prospect.
Given that a lot of his makeup is positive and the big obstacle is command, it's hard not to like Flores. He has been pretty high on some of the top prospect lists from several media outlets, but I think his ceiling is only that of a back-end-of-the-rotation type of guy.
He projects as a big league starter who can compete for a spot in the rotation; I'm just not sure that the ceiling is anything more than a no.4 in the rotation, maybe a no.3 if things a light. Do not get it twisted; Flores is an excellent prospect with a lot to like; I just worry that his ceiling is a bit low moving forward.
He's not going to go out and become a no.2 or an ace, but he could very well find his way into the back end of a rotation and settle in as a big leaguer. He's going to compete on the mound and is very much a prospect to watch in 2023 on his Road to Detroit.