Statistics: (Triple-A) .247/.339/.443, 7 HR, .782 OPS
2014 Level/Status: Triple-A/Non 40
Back in January, Andrew finished his assessment of Ramon Flores as saying his outlook was probably "a fourth outfielder at best". Now that it's almost nine months later, that assessment still likely remains unchanged. But on the positive side for Flores, his good 2014 campaign has gotten himself that much closer to the major leagues. An unsightly ankle injury in June limited him to only 63 games for the Railriders in 2014, but he did make the most of his time in the lineup. Compared to his 2013 season, he slugged 80 points higher and maintained his impressive 12% walk rate. He no longer seems to have much interest in stealing bases after his 24 in 2012, but the power uptick is vital if he's going to become a viable corner outfielder. Maybe he could have made even more strides if it weren't for that unfortunate injury and the subsequent rehab.
Flores has appeared on most of the recent lists of Yankees Top 15 prospects, but he's never been seen as a particularly extraordinary talent. A corner outfielder without elite bat skills is generally going to be seen that way. His patience will always be his calling card, and his defense is generally believed to be adequate while not good enough to man center field permanently. But his uptick in slugging this season could do wonders for his viability in the majors: if he had stayed healthy he would have likely topped double-digit homers for the first time since 2011.
In fact, Flores' season was so nice that many fans were quite annoyed that he didn't get the 'ol "cup of coffee" with the team in September. Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be and Flores will have to hope that 2015 is the year that he gets to the Bronx. Who knows what sort of playing time he would have even gotten if he were brought up, but personally it would have been nice to see Flores get a couple of swings in as opposed to the likes of Antoan Richardson or various other journeymen. We needed any sort of slight enjoyment in late September.
Flores' outlook for 2015 is very much up in the air. Since his 2014 campaign in Scranton-Wilkes Barre was shortened to such a degree, the team may be inclined to give him a little more time in the minors before seriously considering him for a roster spot. After all, he's still just 23 so his progression has remained steady. Playing in his favor is the likely factor of Ichiro Suzuki no longer being with the team and incumbent Triple-A/emergency outfielder Zoilo Almonte not really doing much of anything for the Yankees. If Flores has a nice showing in Spring Training and continues his progress at Triple-A, I wouldn't be shocked if he becomes a bench fixture at some point in 2015. I just don't suspect that they'll break camp with him in that role right away.