Top prospect Flores gains wisdom from older brother

April 16th, 2023

DETROIT -- In a perfect world, this weekend’s Giants-Tigers series would’ve been the chance for a Wilmer Flores-Wilmer Flores matchup, pitting the Giants’ veteran first baseman against his younger brother, the Tigers’ high-rising pitching prospect. But it was a bit too soon.

“Not this year,” the Giants first baseman said with a smile before Sunday’s series finale at Comerica Park. “But no, he just has to go out there and pitch. I went through the same thing when I was in Double-A. Sometimes I was thinking, ‘When am I going to get called up?’ I tell him not to think about that. Just go out there and do your thing. Don’t worry about that. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”

When the two brothers -- there are actually four of them with the same name -- talk about baseball, they talk about the developmental part, with the older brother relaying his experiences as a former top prospect. He can’t help his brother throw his changeup better, but he can talk about what makes a good changeup from a hitter’s perspective.

More than anything, the elder Wilmer said, they’ve talked about the mental side of the game, especially as the younger Wilmer advances.

“Just be willing to fail,” he said. “Because you’re going to fail a lot in this game. Physically, he’s got it all. Just teach him that not every outing is going to be good. Even if you’re good, you’re not going to go out there every time and throw seven innings and dominate every outing. Just keep that in mind.

“That’s the only thing I can help with. Because physically, he can do it all. He’s strong. But the mental part is very important.”

That advice seemed particularly important this week after the younger Wilmer suffered one of his roughest outings at Double-A Erie, allowing six runs on four hits over 1 2/3 innings against Altoona. All the damage came in the second inning after Flores retired the side in order in the first, including highly rated Pirates prospects Henry Davis and Liover Peguero.

Flores gave up three doubles, two walks and a two-run homer in the second inning before he was replaced. Several hitters were in the same Altoona lineup that roughed him up for seven runs in an outing last September.

“Things like that, if you’re feeling good physically, everything’s good,” the older Flores said. “Outings like that are going to happen. It’s just how quick you can forget about that outing and go out there and try again. …

“He has to go through that, so he can learn. Sometimes you have your best stuff and it just doesn’t go your way. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen often. Just flush it.”

With a little patience and a lot of development, the Flores brothers will see each other soon enough. With the new balanced schedule, the Tigers and Giants will face each other every year.

Here's a look at key performances at each level over the past week:

Triple-A Toledo: 3B Justyn-Henry Malloy
From a pure-hitting standpoint, Malloy is owning Triple-A pitching. He entered Sunday on a nine-game hitting streak and batting .383 (18-for-47) for the season, with more walks (15) than strikeouts (11). He hasn’t hit for much power yet, with just two doubles and a home run for extra-base hits, but his 26.7 percent line-drive rate entering Saturday is the best of his pro career, according to FanGraphs.

Double-A Erie: SS Gage Workman
You can read more about Workman and his new plate approach in this excerpt from our recent Tigers newsletter. But after an 0-for-10 start to his season, he’s heating up, with two homers and two triples since Wednesday. He entered Sunday with as many walks as strikeouts, seven each. The Tigers will probably want to see sustained success before pushing him to Triple-A Toledo, but this is already a huge lift for their No. 30 prospect per MLB Pipeline.

High-A West Michigan: Izaac Pacheco
The Tigers’ No. 13 prospect entered Sunday having homered in three consecutive games during the Whitecaps’ road series against Lansing, all toward center field, none of them cheap. He had only one strikeout during that streak and drew three walks on Friday. The 20-year-old has as many walks and strikeouts -- six each -- through eight games, and he is hitting line drives at a 35-percent rate, according to FanGraphs. The Tigers will let him develop at West Michigan while Colt Keith does the same in Erie.

Single-A Lakeland: Trevin Michael
The relief prospect has struck out 11 of the 17 batters he has faced over 4 2/3 scoreless innings in three outings for the Flying Tigers, including all five batters he faced Friday against Bradenton at Joker Marchant Stadium. The former University of Oklahoma closer, a 10th-round pick in last year’s MLB Draft, is old for the level at 25, but he could see a promotion to West Michigan soon.