The New York Yankees placed rookie outfielder Slade Heathcott on the 15-day disabled list this afternoon due to a quad strain. The Yankees are dipping into the farm system well again to replace Heathcott, tabbing rookie outfielder Ramon Flores. Here is a brief look at the newest resident of the Bronx outfield.
Flores is from Venezuela and was signed by the Yankees as a free agent back in 2008. He made steady progress through the system and reached the Double-A level in 2013, hitting .260/.353/.363 in 534 at-bats that year for Trenton, drawing 77 walks. A broken ankle limited him to just 63 games for Triple-A Scranton in 2014, resulting in a .247/.339/.443 line. He recovered from the injury fully and was hitting well for Scranton before today's promotion, posting a .294/.389/.424 mark through 160 at-bats.
Listed at 5-10, 190 pounds, Flores is a left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, born March 26, 1992. He has always stood out for his strike zone judgment and draws more than his share of walks. Scouts generally like his swing but while he isn't punch-less, home runs are not his forte. He's also not a huge stolen base threat and shows just average outfield range. As a result, he has been seen as a "tweener," lacking the range to play center and not having enough extra-base power to start regularly at an outfield corner in the majors.
Here's a good look at his swing from spring training.
Grade-wise Flores has hovered on the boundary between Grade C and C+ throughout his career, projecting as a role player. Forty years ago he would have a future as a pinch-hitter and fifth outfielder. Alas it is 2015, an era of short benches and giant pitching staffs, so it may be difficult for him to find a permanent spot without more power development.
That said, Flores is still reasonably young and his eye for the zone and a sound swing give him basics to build with. His isolated power numbers have been creeping upward and his career SLG in Triple-A is some 40 points higher than his numbers at lower levels. That power development will need to continue, but it is possible that it can.