I recently compared Joc Pederson and Rougned Odor -- a piece you should definitely read -- and the different paths they took to ultimately fairly similar breakout seasons. I initially set out to look for a candidate to be this season's version of Odor, a former top prospect whose struggles caused too many Fantasy players to give up on him, and Pederson was a name that came out of that process.
He is a player who could be a tremendous value this season given how much some might overstate his second-half struggles.
However, one other name came up in my research, and it's not an obvious one.
When I was brainstorming for this piece with Al Melchior and Scott White, we came up with a list of Rougned Odor-type candidates -- names like Yasmany Tomas and Rusney Castillo were thrown around and they all fit the bill well. But the player I want to write about is one you might never even think about: Wilmer Flores.
When I suggested Flores to Al and Scott, they laughed. Flores was a top-100 prospect three years in a row, but hasn't been featured on any of Baseball America's lists since 2011, when he was ranked the No. 59 prospect in baseball. With nearly 900 plate appearances under his belt, Flores looks like the kind of player we can close the book on, and that might be the right way to view him. But if you squint, it's not impossible to see another breakout in Flores' future. Consider these numbers:
Appropros of nothing...— Chris Towers (@CTowersCBS) February 2, 2016
Odor, 14: .259/.297/.402, 4.1 BB%, 17.0 K%, .141 ISO
Wilmer Flores, 15: .263/.295/.408, 3.7BB%, 12.4 K%, .145 ISO
Rougned Odor, minors: .285/.343/.442, 5.9 BB%, 14.4 K%, .157 ISO— Chris Towers (@CTowersCBS) February 2, 2016
Wilmer Flores, minors: .292/.334/.440, 5.3 BB%, 12.9 K%, .148 ISO
Flores has been around for a while, but he'll still be just 24 on opening day and showed some sporadic signs that he could still develop into an above average Fantasy contributor last season. Flores has always shown solid plate coverage, with a 12.4 percent strikeout rate a year ago, a sign that he could develop into something closer to a .290 hitter with a bit better luck from the ball-in-play Gods -- he had just a .273 BABIP last season. With 16 homers in 126 starts, it isn't out of the question that Flores could develop into a 20-homer threat with an everyday role.
Of course, that last bit is a big part of why Flores is unlikely to break out this season. There just isn't a place for him to play every day for the Mets as they open the season, so he would likely need an injury to open up playing time for him. The Mets clearly don't feel great about the prospects of Flores playing everyday, which is an obvious mark against him, but an injury to Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera or David Wright could open up an opportunity for him.
There are more obvious candidates to break out this season and you'll read all about them elsewhere on CBSSports.com and around the Fantasy Baseball world.
But with the combination of power and contact rate Flores brings to the table, the tools are here for a step forward. It's a long shot, but there are always one or two long shots who hit and provide great value for Fantasy owners. Flores isn't someone you should draft, but I'll be keeping him in the back of my mind.