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Red Sox Top Prospect Voting: Antoni Flores looks for a rebound

He tries to catch the post-hype sleeper tag and not the flameout one.

Antoni Flores
Kelly O’Connor;

After a long run of pitchers to close out the top 20 and then continue a little beyond that, we are now going on a mini run of positions players, by which I mean we have our second straight position player. This time around it wasn’t a particularly close vote, either. Antoni Flores comes in and grabs the number 23 spot on our list grabbing 39 percent of the vote.

Flores was a fairly high-profile international signing in the July 2 period of 2017, which was a big one for the Red Sox as it was their first in two years without any restrictions. Antoni was number two in the Red Sox class that year behind Daniel Flores. The latter, of course, tragically passed away later that year after a battle with testicular cancer.

Antoni had some hype around him heading into that next summer when he was getting ready to make his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League both because of his own talents and also the circumstances of being a top position player signing from Latin America. The Red Sox have had a ton of success in that market, most notably of late with players like Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. So, Flores had some eyes on him that summer and he didn’t exactly disappoint. The young shortstop hit .347/.439/.510 in the DSL as a 17-year-old and got a very quick cup of coffee in the GCL ahead of the Fall Instructional League that year.

The pedigree, the team’s success with Latin position players and his early success all had things lined up for Flores to take a legitimate leap in 2019 and perhaps vault himself to the top spot in the organization or at least something close to it. The Red Sox clearly believed in him as a player and as a kid with plus makeup as they pushed him up to Lowell and skipped the GCL all together. Unfortunately, what ended up happening was Flores being among the most disappointing players in the entire farm system. In 55 games and 208 plate appearances with the Spinners, the young shortstop hit just .193/.293/.227.

This wasn’t just a matter of a player having some bad luck snowball, either, as the reports that came out of Lowell were much different than what we heard in the couple of years prior. He suddenly struggled much more with pitch recognition against the most talented competition he had seen to that point and was swinging through a lot of bad pitches. On top of that, when he did make contact it was rarely crisp. His grades in the field suffered, too, as he reportedly added a little weight and that made his quick twitch that had impressed scouts early in his career disappear. By just about every measure, 2019 was a disaster.

All of that being said, this could be just the time to buy low on Flores’s stock. While there were very real issues here that need to be addressed, at the end of the day we’re still talking about a kid who was 18 years old playing in the U.S. for his first full season. Scouts love to say development is not linear, and this is the perfect time to remember that fact. Furthermore, some reports from this spring indicate he spent the offseason working on getting that athleticism back, and if he can also regain some of his old approach as he gets more comfortable in the States a bounce back is far from an impossibility. If there is baseball played in 2020 he is likely to repeat Lowell but a strong start could push a promotion to Greenville for the final month or so of the year.

Here is our list so far:

1. Jeter Downs

2. Triston Casas

3. Bobby Dalbec

4. Bryan Mata

5. Noah Song

6. Gilberto Jimenez

7. Jay Groome

8. Jarren Duran

9. Thad Ward

10. Tanner Houck

11. Matthew Lugo

12. C.J. Chatham

13. Connor Wong

14. Nick Decker

15. Cameron Cannon

16. Marcus Wilson

17. Aldo Ramirez

18. Brayan Bello

19. Ryan Zeferjahn

20. Chris Murphy

21. Chih-Jung Liu

22. Bryan Gonzalez

23. Antoni Flores

Now, you can head down into the comments and vote for the number two. As a reminder, to do this you go down below and find the comment from me corresponding with the player for whom you’d like to vote. When you find said player, just click the “rec” button, and that will count your vote. To do this, you will need to be logged in as a member of the site. If you’d like to vote for a player who is not listed, just leave a comment saying “Vote for ___ here” and I’ll rec the comment to count your vote. Until next time...