Will Jesus Flores Return?

Several years ago, many Mets fans berated the team’s front office, and Omar Minaya in particular, for allowing the Washington Nationals to steal hotshot backstop prospect Jesus Flores via the Rule 5 Draft.

At the time, Flores was a 22-year-old coming off a 21-HR, .268 AVG, .822 OPS campaign for Port St. Lucie in high-A ball. As difficult it was to see Flores snatched, an objective eye would not be nearly as harsh in criticizing the Mets for losing him as we Mets fans — because seriously, how many MLB teams are willing to keep a 22-year-old A-ball catcher on their 25-man roster for an entire season?

As it turned out, Flores struggled with injuries throughout his career in the Nats organization; the 106 games he appeared in between MLB and AAA in 2008 were the most he ever played in one season. In short, his skill set was stunted, and Flores never truly had the opportunity to hone and develop into a bona fide MLB catcher.

There was a possibility that the Nats would non-tender Flores, but they chose to sign him only hours before tonight’s deadline. However, just because they signed him doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll keep him. After all, the Nats already have Wilson Ramos slated to be the starting backstop, and they have two very capable youngsters — Jhonatan Solano and Derek Norris — waiting in the wings. The Nats likely kept Flores not because they need him, but because they realize catchers of any ability are highly prized assets right now; they likely can trade him for something of value.

What do you think? Should the Mets make a play for the now 27-year-old Flores? Why or why not?

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. NormE December 13, 2011 at 11:58 am
    You’re the catching expert, Joe. How would you rate Flores’
    skills as compared to Thole and Nickeas?
    • Joe Janish December 14, 2011 at 1:03 am
      I like — but don’t love — the way Flores sets up behind the plate and receives pitches. He’s fairly quiet back there, meaning, he doesn’t move around too much, which is a good thing. He employs the old school stance of leaning forward, which 90% of MLBers do, and which 99% of coaches teach, so it’s not his fault nor is it uncommon. That type of stance makes catching skill completely reliant on athletic ability, which Flores has.

      Flores has decent footwork, a very quick release, and a strong arm on throws to second base. His accuracy is inconsistent and he has some tailing action on his throws due to the footwork and a 3/4 release.

      As for blocking balls in the dirt he does OK on those in his immediate area, but because of his forward stance he doesn’t have a whole lot of mobility.

      In many ways, his defensive skills are like Ronny Paulino’s, but Flores has better focus, more confidence, and seems to demand more respect and confidence from his pitchers.

      That makes him better than Thole and Nickeas defensively.

  2. mic December 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm
    Did n’t they also have some kid named Harper?

    PS Flores was injured in a meaningless preseason game against the Nats?

    • Joe Janish December 14, 2011 at 12:55 am
      Harper was moved to the outfield, because catching is far too dangerous. Funny how it wasn’t too dangerous for Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Ted Simmons, Lance Parrish, Jorge Posada, etc., etc., etc.
  3. mic December 13, 2011 at 12:14 pm
    Answering for Joe: Flores would be the starter.
    Comparison’s pre-injury were he was Ivan Rodriguez ‘lite’.
  4. LTP December 13, 2011 at 4:09 pm
    I believe the second coming of Jesus would be a good thing.
  5. Jeff December 13, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    I was definitely one of the people killing Omar at the time for leaving Jesus off the 40-man roster. The fact that it was highly unlikely that he would be claimed was irrelevant. My beef was with some of the people who WERE protected. Now I understand that some of these players may have been protected for contractual reasons, but I remember 2 or 3 players that wouldn’t have been taken by an Independent League team, but they were protected nonetheless for some reason. Remember some people back in 1983 didn’t think anyone would dare to claim Tom Seaver. Oops. Obviously not trying to compare the two….but you’ve gotta protect your 40 best players, period, and not try and guess what other teams would or wouldn’t do.

    • Joe Janish December 13, 2011 at 11:45 pm
      I agree to a point. Specifically, I agree with your sentiment that there were players protected who shouldn’t have been. I don’t think Gerald Williams was on the 40-man at that time, but I vaguely remember one or two guys in that stratosphere.

      At the same time, I don’t know for sure that Flores was one of the best 40 players in the organization at that time. There may have been a few youngsters ahead of him, who weren’t protected and weren’t chosen in the Rule 5 draft simply because an opposing scout didn’t “fall in love” with them. I still question that it made sense for the Nats to draft Flores and keep him on their 25-man roster for all of 2007; it did them no good and it likely stunted his development.

  6. jos per December 14, 2011 at 9:28 pm
    los mets no se han convencido que sino tienen un catcher de jararquia que sepa llamar y guiar a los pitchers, no habra rotacion que le rinda ni bullpen que sea eficiente. Si piensan ir a esta temporada con thole y nickeas nada servira para que su rotacion cumpla con lo que aspiran ni teniendo a johan santana en optimas condiciones
  7. jos per December 14, 2011 at 9:31 pm
    Con respecto a jesus flores me parece una alternativa interesante si tomamos en cuenta la tremenda campaña invernal que tiene actualmente en venezuela
  8. John D. December 15, 2011 at 4:56 pm
    I think getting Flores can’t hurt, especially if the Mets don’t have to give up much. He’s certainly better than Nickeas (and probably Thole).

    If I remember correctly, the reason the fans crucified Omar over losing Flores was that he protected the ancient Julo Franco on the 40 man roster rather than Flores. I would have fired him for that reason alone.