Kendry Flores (Steve Mitchell / USA TODAY Sports Images)

One of the newest Cardinals is a former top prospect of the Miami Marlins.

The Cardinal Nation’s top 50 prospect countdown for 2017 continues at #42 with a recently-signed pitcher who stood out in the Marlins system. Details for TCN members.

http://www.scout.com/player/159032-kendry-flores?s=321

2016 rank Pos. DOB Signed Round
NA RHS 11 24 91 2016 MinFA

Selected 2016 stats

Tm W L ERA FIP G GS SV IP H ER HR BB SO AVG G/AO BABIP
AAA 3 6 4.53 4.72 18 16 0 91.1 103 46 8 39 74 0.289 0.87 0.337
AA  0 0 1.59 1.91 1 1 0 5.2 7 1 0 0 4 0.292 1.17 0.350
A+ 0 0 0.00 2.45 1 1 0 5.0 2 0 0 0 2 0.125 2.00 0.143
Tot 3 6 4.15   20 18 0 102.0 112 47 8 39 80 0.282 0.93  
                                 
MIA 0 0 0.00 5.48 1 1 0 3.0 1 0 0 3 1 0.100 0.14 0.111

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (42): From almost the moment he signed as a minor league free agent on November 16, Kendry Flores generated considerable chatter on the message board. This occurred despite the fact that voting has pretty much wrapped up.

CariocaCardinal is a backer, noting that Flores was a top 10 prospect in a weak Marlins farm system and that he was rated the #83 right-handed pitcher in the minors by Baseball America prior to last season. Further, he said that Flores has always pitched in leagues where he was below the average age.

BobReed places Flores among the #36-41 group of Cardinals arms and considers him roughly equivalent to Mike Mayers. Still, BobReed sees a likely bullpen role in Flores’ MLB future. – Brian Walton

 

Derek Shore (42): Most notably, Flores was a part of a two-for-one trade that sent Casey McGehee to the San Francisco Giants in December 2014. The right-hander, a top 20 prospect in the Giants organization at the time, moved into the Marlins top 10 last fall before experiencing prospect fatigue in 2016.

Flores, 24, made his MLB debut in 2015, appearing in seven games (one start) for Miami. He pitched to a 1-2 record and 4.97 ERA over 12 2/3 innings. During the 2016 campaign, Flores opened the season back in Triple-A New Orleans, compiling a 3-6 record with a 4.15 ERA through 20 games (18 starts) while punching out 80 batters to 39 free passes and had nearly four walks per nine innings, a career-worst which hindered his prospect stock.

"Kendry is a fine young man and hard worker with solid makeup," said George "Storm" Davis Jr., New Orleans Zephyrs pitching coach. "He can be either a starter or long reliever. He has a fastball, cutter, changeup, and curveball. He got better as the year went on. The games he struggled was when his fastball wasn't down."

Flores' manager Arnie Beyeler reiterated those thoughts.

"Good kid, who worked hard," Beyeler said. "He pitched for us all season before he had a freak injury when he went up to the big-leagues that cost him some time. Other than that, he posted up all year long and gave us quality starts pretty much every time out. Before he went to the big-leagues, he was in the top ten in the PCL in pitching at the time and he went up to be an extra guy in a doubleheader game.

“He had like a lat strain - some kind of freak injury. He ended up missing over a month and when he came back he picked up right where he left off. He did a nice job and had a good season.”

The Azua, Dominican Republic native was well-regarded as a fire-balling teenager out of the Dominican despite not being able to hold his velocity, but he would touch 95 mph. He has above-average control of a four-pitch mix, including an 88-91 mph fastball that maxes 93 as a starter, pitching aggressively in the strike zone despite his underwhelming stuff.

While Flores does not have much projection left in his 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame, he has a deliberate delivery and was said to be one of the strongest pitchability guys in the Marlins organization. He employs a changeup that has graded a tick above-average before, helping his heater play up. Flores also throws a low-to-mid 80s slider and upper-70s curveball which flash average but lacks consistent depth.

I asked both coaches to elaborate on the nature of his stuff.

"His fastball was a little straight at times and did not have much wiggle room with it," Davis Jr. said. "The curve had 12/6 at times with slider spin occasionally. His feel for when and where with secondary was a problem we had to work through. Feel with secondary especially out of stretch needs help.

"He's a short strider with a weak back leg. That's what we worked on. There were times he kept it throughout. For the most part, that was a difficult task for him,” Davis Jr. said.

“He's got a good fastball, a big fastball guy and he throws downhill,” Beyeler added. “Mid 90s kind of guy most of the time. He had a solid-average changeup and threw a breaking ball. He toyed between a slider and a curveball. When he was able to throw that in the zone, he was a pretty effective three-pitch guy.

“Like all young pitchers, when he was throwing strikes he was pretty effective and when his command wasn't there, he got in some deep counts and it would be a shorter night for him.”

The two weigh in on whether Flores' stuff can play at the major-league level now.

“He's got some consistency issues to work out, which is why he’s been where he's at,” Beyeler said. “All young pitchers when they get to Double-A, they all have stuff. He definitely has stuff he’s just got to continue to get a little more consistent and get more confident in his pitches and continue to keep getting some reps.”

With a limited ceiling due to a lack of plus pitch and projectability, Flores almost never beat himself with walks in the past, though his walk numbers affected his ability to throw all four of pitches for strikes last year. Thus, he profiled as more of a longman/swingman type in 2016. At his best, however, he projects as a valuable no. 4 starter with plus pitchability and an assortment of serviceable offerings to keep hitters in check.

Beyeler believes Flores, who stands at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, has room to fill out from a strength-standpoint, but doesn’t see him growing in terms of his height. His manager believes he looks bigger than his stature and said he is a leaner, skinnier type.

The question remains whether Flores will be able to stick in an MLB rotation. His 2016 manager offers his assessment.

“I would think scouts are probably right,” Beyeler replied on why Flores is considered a longman/swingman type. “They see that two-pitch type thing. He is still young and I think we are all quick to write off starters because it is easier. Being a young guy, if he is able to develop some of his offspeed stuff and be more consistent with it - he has a chance to be a starter.

“He has definitely shown he is durable enough through a full-season. I think the reason they do said that a lot of times is because of the two pitches and he really doesn’t have a third pitch to get big-league hitters out and him going into the bullpen would allow his stuff to play up a little bit. That would even allow his two pitches to be even better than somewhere around average.”

Flores will likely compete for a rotation spot with Memphis in 2017.

 

Brian Walton (NR): The reality is that our top 50 voting was complete before the Cardinals signed Flores. That, coupled with the loss of Tim Cooney via waivers, created an opening. Based on the community discussion, which Derek concurred with, they suggested placing Flores here at #42.

I really feel like I am flying blind. Though I may have seen Flores pitch in the past - as the Cards and Marlins farm teams face off often in the various minor league camps throughout the year - I don’t recall it. And I have never spoken with coaches about him, either.

Given that major blind spot and basing my decision solely on the recent history of the player, I would not have placed Flores in my personal top 50. However, the majority rules, and here we are with the right-hander at #42.

My reasoning is as follows – which I shared with the community at the time Flores was signed. I disagreed with a thought, which had been seconded, that the new arrival was roughly equivalent as a prospect to Mayers, a pitcher we will not be seeing in this countdown for more than a week.

I am not sure what prospect fatigue is, but in my book, what Flores did in 2015 and earlier is not all that relevant any more. His FIP seems to confirm the reality that he simply did not pitch well at all in 2016 at Triple-A or MLB. I have to believe that is a big reason why he was removed from Miami's 40-man roster and allowed to leave as a free agent. It also should be remembered that the Marlins are starved for pitching and currently have just 36 players on their roster.

Just two months ago, Flores was put on waivers by Miami and went unclaimed by every MLB organization. He will be unprotected for the Rule 5 Draft, with an expectation that he will not be taken.

This lower demand indicates his once-rising star has fallen across the game. In the unlikely (but certainly not impossible) event he is taken in Rule 5, the Cards lose nothing from their 2016 ranks, even if he is not returned.

Don't get me wrong. Flores looks to be a good veteran addition to Memphis' rotation for 2017 at the low cost of a minor league contract and an MLB spring training camp invitation. But I do not see him as top 50 material at this point and certainly not the equivalent of Mayers, who had a far superior 2016 season at Triple-A compared to Flores. I am certainly open to him earning his way onto my list in 2017, however. Until then, I will be from Missouri.

TCN Scouting Grade: 3.5, Risk: Medium (click here to review scales)

 

Our 2017 top 50 series continues

To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 50 countdown and nine in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of them are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation. Thank you for being a member!

 

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