Mets' Vaughn, Flores in the groove

Top prospects form a dynamic duo for Minors' best team

Wilmer Flores is batting .300 over his last 10 games. (Mark LoMoglio/

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | May 1, 2012 6:44 PM

The Mets have a trio of young pitchers that dominates the discussion surrounding the team's top prospects. A pair of teammates in the Florida State League is working its way onto the radar.

While Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia are likely to vie for spots in the big league rotation in the not-too-distant future, outfielder Cory Vaughn and third baseman Wilmer Flores could be called on to fill spots in the batting order.

On Tuesday, the pair continued to make noise for Class A Advanced St. Lucie.

Vaughn went 3-for-6 with four RBIs and missed the cycle by a triple out of the No. 3 spot and cleanup hitter Flores homered as part of a 4-for-6 performance in the Mets' 15-6 romp over the Jupiter Hammerheads.

"I really enjoy having Wilmer behind me because he's a great hitter and plays very well," said Vaughn, who celebrated his 23th birthday with his eighth multi-hit game of the season. "I know that if I get on base, he'll put the ball in play."

Vaughn's homer was his sixth of the year and marked the fourth time he's gone yard in the last five games. Flores, the Mets' No. 6 prospect, has hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games and leads the team with a .322 average.

After grounding out in their first at-bats, Vaughn and Flores recorded consecutive singles in a nine-run second. Flores beat out an infield hit in the third after Vaughn struck out, and the duo smacked back-to-back homers off reliever Michael Ojala in the fifth.

"It was a 1-0 count and I got fastball down and in. I just didn't miss it," Flores said of his fourth homer of the season. "It was a pretty good day. I was making some adjustments, staying back a little bit more, and that worked for me."

Vaughn, the Mets' No. 15 prospect, said, "The first pitch was a breaking ball that I took, but then I got a 1-0 fastball that I got my bat head on. The first at-bat, I was too amped up. I was swinging at balls in the dirt and getting outside my game plan."

Flores collected his fourth hit with a single in the seventh and Vaughn plated two more runs with a two-out double in the eighth.

Flores, a 20-year-old Venezuelan, is (13-for-42) over his last 10 games and said the changes he made at the plate Tuesday night were indicative of minor adjustments he began making last weekend.

"The last three games, I have been going forward too much," Flores explained. "When I'm going forward, I'm pulling the balls and hitting ground balls to short and ground balls to third. When I'm staying back, I see the ball longer and I'm able to go the other way."

That's particularly important when the first baseman is holding Vaughn close to the bag, leaving a big hole on the right side of the infield.

"He's a very strong guy and he can put the ball in play," Flores said of Vaughn, whose father, Greg, hit 355 homers during a 15-year big league career. "He's pretty good. Hopefully, I can keep hitting and playing the way I'm doing."

While Flores' changes have been purely mechanical, Vaughn's have been as much mental as physical.

"I really have to give a lot of credit to hitting coach Benny DiStefano," the San Diego State product said. "Last week, I was not loading my hands. I was going from standing still to swinging and he told me to have separation so that I could get the bat out there. I also did a lot of yoga and Pilates this winter and gained 15-20 pounds of muscle, so I'm now sitting at 238 and I'm more flexible and my speed is the same if not better.

"My mind is better, too. Last year, I was just going through the motions, so I really tried to work on my mental preparation with Andy McKay at Sacramento City Junior College this year. Last year, I was doing things out of fear. I was thinking that if I didn't hit in the cage I wouldn't be good, instead of practicing to be the best player I could be. I need to control what I can control and stay in the present."

Richard Lucas homered and plated four runs, Robbie Shields added a three-run blast and Cesar Puello collected three of St. Lucie's season-high 19 hits. Mets starter Yohan Almonte (2-0) got the win, despite allowing six runs -- four earned -- on six hits and three walks over 5 1/3 innings. Four relievers gave up two hits the rest of the way.

The 15 runs and five homers also were season highs for the Mets, who have won six in a row and own the Minor Leagues' best record at 21-4.

Jupiter starter Edgar Olmos (0-1) surrendered seven runs on six hits and two walks over 1 2/3 frames.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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