Wilmer Flores has seemingly managed to get better and better as the season has gone along, improving his numbers each month. On Tuesday night, he delivered his best performance yet.
The Mets' No. 7 prospect collected a career-high five hits, hitting two doubles, scored three times and drove in a run as Triple-A Las Vegas pounded Fresno, 12-2.
Flores finished 5-for-6 and fell one hit shy of the team record set by Billy Hall in 1994. He eclipsed his previous high of four hits, accomplished most recently on June 24, 2012 for Double-A Binghamton.
"He just made real hard contact five times in a row, probably the best I've seen him five at-bats in a row [this season]," 51s manager Wally Backman said.
Flores' month-by-month improvement has been remarkably consistent. In April, he hit .269 and put up a .715 OPS; in May, it was .306 and .873; in June, he batted .342 with a .950 OPS. And he's 7-for-10 in his first two games in July.
"Offensively, I think he's gotten better, there's no question about it," Backman said. "He's basically been around .300 most of the year, but you can see the more consistent quality at-bats he's having, and it's turning into some extra hits.
"He's a real good teammate. He comes out every day, has fun and goes out there and expects to win. He's a quality individual. He works hard on his defense, and that's really what he still needs to improve on still, but offensively, he can swing the bat. He has a knack for driving in runs and it's nice to be able to have guys like that."
The 21-year-old Venezuelan has been making progress at second while wielding a potent bat. Last season, he stormed through the Class A Advanced Florida State League and Double-A Eastern League, combining for a .300/.349/.479 slash line. After 64 games with St. Lucie and 66 with Binghamton, he convinced the Mets he was ready for Triple-A.
Despite being one of the youngest regulars in the Pacific Coast League, he's fashioned a .320/.357/.520 line with 10 homers, 27 doubles and 64 RBIs in 81 games.
"You know, he did really well last year and from what I've seen in the four years I've been around him, I think he's just going to become a better hitter each and every year," Backman noted. "He's definitely gotten better, like I said. He's an RBI machine. He gets good pitches to hit. He'll swing out of his own just like some hitters every once in a while, but he's really cut down on that."
The five-hit outburst raised Flores' average 10 points, leaving him 11th in the PCL batting race.
Ike Davis hit his sixth homer, a two-run shot in the first, and Juan Centeno was 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles, an RBI and two runs scored for the 51s. Despite losing Zack Wheeler to the Majors and playing much of the season without top prospect Travis d'Arnaud, Las Vegas is a half-game behind first-place Tucson in the Pacific Southern Division.