After spending parts of five seasons in the minor leagues, Wilmer Flores is finally on the big league roster for the New York Mets.
After their All-Star third baseman David Wright went down with a hamstring injury, the Mets felt it was time to call upon the 22-year-old prospect. In fact, Flores made his major league debut on his 22nd birthday, in case he didn't have reason enough to celebrate.
The Mets originally signed Flores in 2007 as an 18-year-old amateur free agent. Prior to the 2009 season, he was ranked the 47th-best prospect in baseball, according to Baseball America.
Baseball America also ranked Flores as the Mets' No. 6 prospect entering the 2013 season, though he did not rank in the top 100 overall.
Still, Flores put up some solid numbers in the minors, spending the majority of his time at shortstop (he also spent considerable time at second and third). In 2012, he combined to hit 18 home runs between High-A and Double-A, while hitting an even .300 as well.
Prior to his call-up, Flores' debut in Triple-A was just as impressive. In 107 games for Las Vegas, Flores was hitting .321 with 15 home runs and 86 RBI.
Since joining the big club on Aug. 6, Flores has shown flashes of what he is capable of. In 27 at-bats (entering play on Tuesday), Flores owns a .259 batting average with nine RBI. He belted his first career home run on Sunday in Arizona.
Flores has been holding down the hot corner in Wright's absence. But what would become of the Venezuela native once Wright returns (which could be as late as next season)? While most of his time in the minors was spent as a shortstop, Flores hasn't played the position since 2011. Perhaps if the Mets are ready to give up on Ruben Tejada, they could try Flores over at short.
ESPN's Adam Rubin tweeted that the Mets have no intentions of putting Flores in the outfield, despite the team's glaring need for a long-term outfielder.
So that leaves either second base or first base. Daniel Murphy, who has finally found a home on the diamond after shifting around from position to position himself, is currently occupying second base.
What will Flores' role with the Mets be long-term?
First base is anchored by Ike Davis, who, despite his struggles this season, should be in the long-term plans for the Mets. So unless the Mets plan to use Flores as a super-utility type of player, someone is going to have to go.
But what does Flores actually have to offer the Mets for the future? Well, in my eyes, I can see him as a super-utility guy, a la Ben Zobrist. Zobrist has made a career in Tampa Bay by being versatile enough to play in a myriad of positions.
Whether it's right field, shortstop or second base, Zobrist has always been productive no matter where he plays. Manager Joe Maddon always finds a way to keep his bat in the lineup.
Flores has shown through his minor league career that he can have similar success. He's played all over the infield, but he has kept a heavy bat when he comes to the plate.
If he could provide the Mets with 15-20 home runs a season, while using his versatility around the diamond, he could become a very valuable piece to the team's core unit.
And at just 22 years of age, he should be a key cog for many years to come.