I didn’t know much about Wilmer Flores before his promotion last week, primarily because I cultivate a state of plausible deniability where the Met minor leagues are concerned. I remain mostly blissfully ignorant about Met prospects because, quite frankly, I don’t want to know. With a handful of exceptions at the Harvey-Wheeler level, I figure the kid — like the notoriously tardy Baby Buck — will get here when he gets here.
Well, Wilmer Flores has gotten here and he’s been worth however you long waited for him…which in my case wasn’t at all, making him a nice personal surprise in the vein of Juan Lagares (about whom I will admit I knew nothing upon his callup). Together Flores and Lagares drove in all four runs in the Mets’ 4-1 Saturday night victory over the Diamondbacks, a game won by fellow rookie Zack Wheeler and preserved in great part by another recent Las Vegan, the perpetually youthful Pedro Feliciano.
Lagares homered. Wheeler didn’t walk anybody as he pitched into the seventh. Feliciano negated threatening lefty Gerardo Parra with the bases loaded in the eighth. Flores, however, is the new toy and thus the one to which the eye is drawn most immediately.
Wilmer’s playing third out of necessity because of David Wright’s injury and batting sixth because he’s too good to waste further down the order. His five-game major league career has been promising enough to make one wonder where he’ll eventually fit into the lineup and defense — which is where I get twitchy.
Flores has collected eight RBIs in his first five games. Actually, they’ve come in his second four games. We spotted him his first night’s ohfer to let him get his feet wet. His small sample size since is extraordinarily large enough to get us excited at the thought that once he’s stationed at his permanent position, he could really…uh…
Say, what is his permanent position? He just turned 22. Surely we know where his future lies.
Even if I had been paying attention to his minor league activities, I don’t think I would know, since nobody else seems to. He was drafted as a shortstop, but it’s been agreed he’s not really a shortstop. He’s played second base more than anywhere else, but we’ve seen that second base is not easily conquered. It’s taken Daniel Murphy close to three seasons to appear natural at second — and, hey, we have Murph at second! Wilmer’s also played a little first, the province of Ike Davis, a recent inductee into the Hall of .200, so who wants to rewrite that kind of success story?
You’re not going to keep a run-producing, franchise-changing stud out of your lineup so as not to disturb a Davis or a Murphy, but Flores is only that in our dreams right now. Mike Vail was that. Gregg Jefferies was that. Rosters were unhinged and defenses were realigned because finding those young men places to play became paramount after a few hot August nights.
Vail. Jefferies. Alex Ochoa. Victor Diaz. Mike Jacobs. Lastings Milledge. You know the drill. A stream of intoxicating at-bats. A few dreamy weeks. The future arrived. Then the future got hurt playing basketball or failed to mature fully or was swapped for Brian Schneider and Ryan Church before the future’s trade value completely disintegrated. In the shadow of all those disappointments that linger in the subconscious, Wilmer Flores rose to the major leagues with a name even I recognized on contact and is getting us going in the short term while on the verge of overheating our hopes and dreams for the long term.
But y’know what? Let him. That’s what 22-year-olds who drive in eight runs before they’ve been here a week are supposed to do.