Charleston has a ton of interesting, promising hitting prospects, but none is more of an enigma than Ramon Flores. Flores has hit a home run in each of his last four games, boosting his season line to .285/.415/.469 in 35 games. He has already drawn 27 walks against 30 strikeouts in just 35 games – a 120 walk pace. He also showed similarly awesome walk rates last year, as Eric wrote about in January.
Flores is just 5’10″ and 150 lbs, although he can be expected to fill out as he ages. He is just 19 years old. The Yankees paid him $775,000 to sign out of Venezuela, obviously seeing something in the young player. He was never considered fast – sticking to left field and 1st base – but didn’t seem like much of a power hitter either. I haven’t seen anyone – scouts, people in the Yankee organization, BA, etc – mention anything about his swing and its power potential, and no video of Flores exists on Youtube, so your guess is as good as mine on what kind of potential he has to develop real power. Plate discipline, which he has loads of, does tend to lead to power in young prospects. Its very rare to see a guy take the number of walks at 19 years old that Flores does. Hopefully, that’s a sign of things to come.
However, his size is a big concern in the power department. Its not all that uncommon for small, tweener prospects to be dubbed “power swing guys” by scouts. I remember the days when people were making the ridiculous comparison between Jose Tabata and Manny Ramirez. All sorts of people said that Tabata’s Manny-like quick wrists would lead to lots of home runs, once he filled out. Obviously, it is possible for a small guy like Flores to hit for serious power – Manny is just 6’0 himself, and was much leaner back in the 90s – but like I said with Tabata, we shouldn’t give him the benefit of the doubt. If Flores finishes the season with a solid ISO and 12+ home runs, I’d be willing to consider him as a power hitter. But until that happens, I think we should look at Flores as a low-Slg%, high-OB% kind of player.
High on-base, low-power guys can have successful MLB careers playing the corners, but rarely become stars. Realistic, 80% scenarios for Flores include comparisons in value like Lyle Overbay or Mark Grace. If the power develops, you could look at Nick Swisher as a comparison. A strong modern day comparable might but Daric Barton.
Bottom line: He’s definitely going to make a strong showing on my next top-30 prospect list (I held him off last season because I generally have trouble trusting GCL performances, which often create disappointment), but a strong showing from him won’t put him up with there with J.R. Murphy, Slade Heathcott, Gary Sanchez, and the other top young Yankee hitting prospects. He’s intriguing, but his ceiling should be suspect until he proves otherwise. I’d say he’ll end up in the 18-20 range for now.
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