In case you hadn't heard, Wilmer Flores is on a tear.
The former top overall prospect in the Mets system is currently batting .330 in May with an OPS well over .900 (.310/.347/.497 overall). And the key has been the development of his power game. He's currently sitting at seven home runs through just 42 games for St. Lucie. For reference his career high is 11 in 133 games back in 2010.
Interestingly enough, Flores is rapidly approaching his 1000th career at bat with the Hi-A St. Lucie Mets, a mark that few top prospects hit at any one level.Now don't get me wrong, this is certainly not a damning bit of information; players develop at all different rates (hell, look at Bryan LaHair who logged over 2500 ab's at Triple-A) and Flores himself is still just 20 years old.
Just for kicks, let's take a look at the longest -- contiguous -- stays with a minor league affiliate for a few other current Mets:
|222 (A+)||556 (AA)||502 (A+)||482 (A+)||497(A+)||389 (A-)||516 (AA)||496(A-)|
Probably meaningless considering the new -- and much more conservative -- regime that's now in place. But it's at least worth thinking about as we evaluate this sudden power surge. It does stand to reason that after a third look at a given pitching environment a player should improve his performance -- assuming he's any good. Though the problem is that improvement does NOT always represent actual, intrinsic growth. Therein lies the rub.
The verdict in this case? Hard to say. It could just as easily be a prospect actually taking a few years to develop -- believe it or not that does happen -- as it could be a so-so hitter eventually learning to hit so-so pitching. There's really no way of knowing, at least not until he finds his way up to Double-A
Either way, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at Flores' increase in power over those thousand or so at bats graphically. So here we have the rare and elusive minor league Mets infographic (click to embiggen):