Scouting Yankees Prospect #10: Ramon Flores
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Scouting Yankees Prospect #10: Ramon Flores

The Yankees signed outfielder Ramon Flores out of Venezuela for a reported $775,000 as part of their 'July 2nd' signing group in 2008. Since that time he has developed not only one of the finest swings in the farm system but one of the best all-around games too.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Ramon Flores
Position: Left Field
DOB: March 26, 1992
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 180
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

All the 20-year old did was hit a combined .303 with 43 extra-base hits and post a .370 on-base percentage between high-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2012, and that was after getting off to a very slow start to begin the year.

"The hits weren't falling like they were in June and July," Flores told PinstripesPlus.com. "I just need some luck, I don't think I need to change anything because my approach is the same as it has been and I'm making good contact."

Hidden behind his solid .302 average in Tampa was the fact that he got off to a rather slow 18-87 start [.207] in his first 23 games. After he made that initial adjustment, however, he wound up hitting a scintillating .321 the rest of the way in the pitching-friendly Florida State League.

"Flores had a pretty good year. He has been steady all year after a slow start," Tampa hitting coach Justin Turner said. "Flores has a solid game. Not to say he is big league ready but he has had a pretty good year and he's got a really good chance to hit as he goes up."

Always known for his advanced swing and overall approach at the plate, it's in the other areas of his game where real progress has been made and that is not lost on team officials.

"Flores is one of the more professional guys on the team," Tampa manager Luis Sojo said. "He does everything the right way for such a young age. That's what you want to see in these young guys, they work hard. He's talented and plays good defense and knows how to hit."

He had always shown flashes of his great hitting ability and even showcased it for rather long stretches at times, but more so than anything what he proved in 2012 is that he can be a consistent force for an entire season.

"It was a really productive season," Flores said. "I set out to be more consistent and I accomplished that. Overall it's the best season that I've had consistency wise."

Lost in the pantheon of an emerging outfield group that shows better power and tools, including players like Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, and Tyler Austin, Flores continues to fly under the radar despite his advanced feel for hitting and solid overall game.

In fact, his undervalued prospect status and remarkably consistent swing path conjures up images of a young Robinson Cano, another player who never really received the accolades coming up through the minor leagues but still blossomed into becoming one of the game's elite hitters.

"He hit eleven home runs in Charleston in 2011 and he hit eight between A-ball and Double-A this year," Yankees senior vice president of scouting and player development Mark Newman said. "I think he's going to have power. He works at the game. He's 20 years old. In the next couple of years we may see more.

"If you look at Cano's power numbers as a young guy he hit 14 home runs in Greensboro but Greensboro is short and Charleston is long, and he hit five in Tampa. In 2005 he was 20 years old and played in Tampa and Trenton, and he hit six home runs. Ramon Flores is the same age and he hit eight home runs between those two ball parks.

"I'm not saying Ramon Flores is going to be a 30-home run hitter or a 30-home run power guy in the big leagues, but he's got some pop and he's emerging as a player. When these guys get to 21, 22, 23, that's when we can expect to see some increased power output.

"So we'll see but we know he can hit. He can hit and he gets on base. If he gets some power, and he's a solid corner outfielder -- yeah, people don't talk about him and I wouldn't be surprised if he's in that same group."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2012 Trenton .400 5 0 1 2 2 0 0 0 .400 1.000
2012 Tampa .302 517 29 6 39 83 24 54 85 .370 .420
2011 Charleston .265 468 26 11 59 59 13 61 93 .353 .400
2010 Tampa .250 28 0 0 2 0 0 0 5 .250 .250
2010 Charleston .250 48 3 0 2 3 1 3 15 .294 .313
2010 GCL Yankees .329 158 10 2 22 33 4 28 22 .436 .481
2009 GCL Yankees .196 158 5 0 14 14 7 22 35 .303 .241
2009 DSL Yankees2 .256 39 0 1 5 8 0 11 5 .423 .487


Batting and Power. Flores excels at barreling the baseball and even though there are bigger players physically a lot of his power is derived from that innate ability and great bat speed. His swing path is extremely advanced and so are his plate discipline and pitch recognition. He is willing to take walks, almost to a fault sometimes [he wasn't aggressive enough at the start of 2012], and he is exceptional at using the whole field. He is true .300 hitter, one who takes walks and has average power potential now with room to grow as he matures.

Base Running and Speed. Flores is an average runner overall, perhaps just a shade better, but he is a head's up base runner who knows how to pick his spots and he has become a lot more aggressive on the base paths lately. He has the wheels to be a 20-plus stolen base threat each year.

Defense. Just like in the running game, Flores is more steady than flashy. He is an above average defensive corner outfielder who shows above average arm strength and the type of fringy above average range that could spell in centerfield at times if called upon. He might not be a Gold Glove type defensive player but he can certainly man the position quite well, especially as an above average left fielder.

Projection. With an ability to man all three outfield positions rather well defensively, some good speed and a great ability to get on base consistently, Flores is about as safe a bet to reach the big league level as a reserve outfielder at minimum as there is. However, swing-wise the comparisons to Robinson Cano are truly uncanny. If he can ultimately develop that kind of power is a wait and see proposition because like a young Cano there isn't much loft in his swing -- it's more of a pronounced line-drive swing -- but the innate hitting ability is nearly identical and Flores at least shows a willingness to draw walks too. It's because of those reasons that he projects best as an everyday corner outfielder who could hit in the top third of a big league lineup someday. Consistent and clutch are the two best adjectives for his hitting ability.

ETA. 2014. Flores will be big league ready once the power develops some more. For now he will open up the 2013 season with Double-A Trenton and he could be in the big leagues the following year.

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