USC left-handed pitcher Bernardo Flores could have used The Troggs’ “Wild Thing” as his intro music when he took the mound this season. Not only does he rock the black-framed glasses like Charlie Sheen’s Ricky Vaughn in Major League, but much like the infamous baseball movie character, Flores was often feast or famine.
The Chicago White Sox organization is hoping that can develop into more consistent feasting after selected Flores with their seventh round draft pick, No. 206 overall, on Friday.
Flores possesses a big arm, capable of running his fastball all the way up to 97 mph, though he typically sits in the 93-95 mph zone. However, he was at his best this season when he pitched 89-93 mph because he was able to control the strike zone with better regularity. Flores also features a 76-81 mph changeup with a pair of breaking balls. He has a 79-80 mph slider that occasionally morphed into a mid-80s cutter and a 1-to-7 breaking curveball that can be really effective when he can command it, which was not often the case.
Listed at 6-foot-3, 170 pounds, Flores is long and lanky with knees and elbows flying everywhere, which has contributed to the command issues. He contorts his body and fires nearly straight over the top.
The Baldwin Park (Calif.) product had an opportunity to be a big contributor this year, but finished with a 1-0 record and a 6.70 ERA in 41.2 innings spanning 16 appearances, including four starts. He gave up 50 hits. His best season statistically came last year when he went 3-1, 3.83 in 44.2 innings. He struck out 45 while allowing 43 hits. As a freshman, he made five appearances with a 7.20 ERA in just five innings.
The White Sox seem to like the USC program as this is the third straight year they have taken a Trojan after picking seniors Dante Flores in the 18th round last year and Kevin Swick in the 22nd round in 2014.
Flores has the option to return to school for his senior year, but that would mean turning down a potential pay day of more than $200,000. The bonus slot value for the 206th overall pick is $214,900, but the team and the player can negotiate for a different number. As a junior, Flores has the leverage because he can return to school. Last year, junior college pitcher Travis Neubeck got full slot value at the No. 2016 pick.
To sign versus not signing is a calculated gamble because a strong summer and then a big season could send a player’s stock soaring up the draft boards when they have a fastball that can touch 97 mph.