Shortstop Antoni Flores is one of the youngest prospects in the Red Sox system but is also one of the more intriguing players. The 18-year old initially signed as an international free agent back in 2017, receiving a 1.4 million dollar signing bonus. The Red Sox clearly see something in this guy, but what makes him the 14th-ranked prospect entering 2019?
Red Sox Prospects: Antoni Flores
Flores only played half a season of rookie ball with the Red Sox, but he’s already made a big impression with the bat. In 62 plate appearances, Flores posted a .340/.435/.528 slash line with an accompanying 173 wRC+. Granted, some of this production was due to a high .386 BABIP, but it was still an impressive debut.
While his stats were helped by a high BABIP, his underlying numbers suggest he can be a difference maker at the plate. In his limited sample, Flores had an isolated power of .189, which is pretty good, especially for an 18-year old shortstop. He’ll never be a power-first hitter, but he should be able to produce a good amount of doubles with 10-15 home runs if he continues to develop.
Perhaps what’s most impressive is his walk and strikeout rates. Flores struck out in just 12.9% of at-bats while walking 14.5% of the time. Finding a player who walks more than they strike out in this day and age is a dream come true, especially for a younger player. Plate discipline typically takes time to develop on the professional level, yet Flores seems to be ahead of the pack in this regard.
Additionally, Flores brings a lot to the field as a defender. While he doesn’t have elite speed for the position, Flores has great instincts and reflexes that allow him to make up for his average speed. His arm is capable of making just about every throw a shortstop would ever need to make. He sometimes struggles with accuracy, but this can likely be fixed with time. He’s 18 after all, he’s not supposed to be a finished product yet.
What To Work On
The biggest strike against Flores is his inexperience. He’s only 18 and he’s only ever played in rookie ball, so nobody’s quite sure how he’ll perform against better competition. Only time will answer this question, but he should be able to adjust well to the advanced level of play.
Like all younger players, he’ll need to build up his frame as he continues to develop. Per MLB.com, Flores is currently listed as 6’-1”, 190 pounds. The Red Sox would probably like to see him add a few pounds of muscle to his frame to increase his power and durability. Once again, this should happen with time as he’s only 18.
Outside of this, there really isn’t much to work on that time won’t address. There are no glaring holes in his game, he has a good swing, and he plays strong defense. The only reason he’s so low on the prospect list is that he’s so young. A lot of players have profiles like him but can’t put it all together as they grow older.
Antoni Flores won’t be making the major leagues any time soon. He’s only 18 and has yet to even reach Single-A. If anyone’s looking to see him in a Red Sox uniform in the next one or two years, they’re asking for disappointment.
That said, he could be a top-five prospect in the system if everything breaks right. Flores was one of the most sought-after international free agents and put his skills on display during his limited time in rookie ball. The young shortstop showed the ability to hit for average and contact while displaying outstanding plate discipline. Additionally, Flores plays solid defense which should only improve as he gets more experience.
Flores is currently the second-ranked shortstop behind C.J. Chatham. However, Flores has the higher ceiling of the two. Both players are roughly the same defensively, but Flores has the chance to be a much better bat. If he can build on his promising 2018, look for him to be the top-ranked shortstop in the Sox system, even if he might not make the majors until 2021 or 2022.