Scouting Yankees Prospect #14: 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. Not armed with plus power or blazing speed, he has therefore flown under the radar during his minor league ascent but carries with him one of the more consistent games around.

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

Batting and Power. Not very big physically, Flores will never be confused with a power hitter but what he lacks in plus power he more than makes up with his overall hitting ability; he can flat-out hit! Armed with some of the best pitch recognition, plus plate discipline, and consistent swing mechanics around, it's his consistent ability to barrel the baseball and use the whole field that really stands out among his peers. He has the wherewithal to sit back on the better offspeed pitches and the above average bat speed to catch up to the better fastballs too, and he rarely over-swings or offers at pitches out of the zone. As a result he forces pitchers to throw strikes and because of his knack for hitting the sweet spot so often he makes good use out of his rather average big league power potential.

Base Running and Speed. Just as is the case with his power, Flores is merely an average runner overall but he supplants his natural tool with a high-level of intelligence on the base paths. He can be a better impact runner at times than his speed suggests when he picks up his aggressiveness too. Throw in an ability to get on base consistently more than most, he has enough wheels to be a 20 or so stolen base threat over the course of a full season.

Defense. Keeping up with the 'average tools' theme, Flores' isn't a real standout in the field either but he's more than solid. He shows average to slightly above average arm strength and enough solid range to track down most fly balls. He's best suited as a slightly above average defensive big league left fielder but has enough defensive game to play all three outfield positions in a pinch too if the need arises.

Projection. While Flores certainly isn't one of the toolsiest players around and gets knocked by his critics as a result, consistency is often the less talked about and arguably most important sixth tool, and Flores has that in spades. He grinds out at-bats every single day and makes pitchers work, and in almost Derek Jeter-like fashion he seems to deliver the best in the tougher situations. His impact in the game is felt more over the course of a full season than it is in any one game and because of that there are some legitimate Robinson Cano-like comparisons, especially in regards to his overall hitting ability. Like a young Cano, how far Flores' power materializes at the big league level will determine how he fits into a big league lineup but his plus hitting potential and ability to draw walks are tailor made for the top two or three spots in a batting order.

ETA. 2015. Flores could have made his big league debut last year had it not been for the fact that he missed considerable time due to injury. Outside of limited power potential at the current time, Flores is big league ready in every other way right now.

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