Detroit Tigers Top 30 Prospects for 2024: #12 Wilmer Flores

Detroit Tigers pitcher Wilmer Flores warms up during spring training at Tigertown in Lakeland, Fla.
Detroit Tigers pitcher Wilmer Flores warms up during spring training at Tigertown in Lakeland, Fla. / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Our Detroit Tigers Top 30 prospect series continues as we look at right-hander Wilmer Flores, whose prospect profile has taken a few bumps along the road.

With the recent developments across the system with Jackson Jobe, Sawyer Gipson-Long and Reese Olson, Wilmer Flores, who was once a Top 100 prospect, seems to be forgotten as he heads into spring training, but that seems to be okay with him. He looks like he has slimmed down and the long hair, a trademark of his, is gone.

His goal last season when I spoke to him was to get his third pitch, a changeup, out there to generate swings and misses to go along with a cutter, short slider and fastball and go deeper into games.

In 2023, Flores pitched 89 innings, striking out 90 batters and posting a WHIP of 1.31. His performance didn't match the swing-and-miss stuff of 2022, as he struggled to gain consistency early in the season. However, he bounced back in June, posting a strikeout rate of 11.27 per nine innings and a FIP of 2.68 for the month.

After making two starts in July, Flores missed a month due to a thigh injury and did not return to Erie until the final two weeks of the regular season. During his two rehab starts with the Whitecaps against Lansing, Flores showed inconsistency in pounding the strike zone. In his second rehab start, he allowed nine earned runs in 2.1 innings.

He made one final start in Erie before the playoffs but did not pitch in the opening series against Richmond. The next game action he saw was Game 1 of the Eastern League Championship but lasted just two innings against the Rumble Ponies, throwing 38 pitches.

The drop-off in performance could be attributed to injuries, the process of learning to throw the changeup with more consistency, or perhaps differences of opinion regarding development. Flores has his own team assisting with the development of his pitches, which may sometimes conflict with the team's suggestions. As for his role in 2024, it seems he is currently positioned as a starter, but if he can return to his 2022 form, the Tigers will likely find a role for him on the big league roster.

Follow me on "X" at rogcastbaseball