Sep 1st, 2009
Flowers’ Era to Begin
Top catching prospect Tyler Flowers is expected to be one of four September call-ups for the White Sox this year. Though when two of them, Chris Getz and Dewayne Wise, were on the DL (or the “DL” in the case of Wise) it’s really just two additions. Carlos Torres is expected to be the other and could start against the Cubs. That leaves Flowers as the only one to make his Major League debut as part of the expanded rosters.
It was first reported by Jon Heyman hours before Monday’s Twins game that Flowers was going to be called up. At the time it was easy to assume it would be a small audition and showcase for Flowers. He wasn’t going to play regularly at catcher and with Alex Rios on the roster, the Sox already had an excess of hitters that needed playing time. However, now it makes more sense. With Jim Thome gone, the outfield can be Rios, Jermaine Dye and Carlos Quentin/Scott Podsednik with Quentin probably getting more time at DH while he gets nursed back to 100%. Flowers can spell A.J. Pierzynski at catcher and play DH when one of the outfielders needs a day off. Now he likely will be trying out for a spot on the opening day 2010 roster.
Flowers got to this point by killing the ball in AA this year. Earlier today he was named to the Southern League Post-Season All-Star team because he blew the league away. He hit .302 with a .445 OBP and .993 OPS and got promoted to AAA in mid July. His numbers in Charlotte are decent, but not great, though we are running into issues with sample size here.
In only 31 games with the Knights, Flowers hit .286 with a .364 OBP and .803 OPS. His walk rate was spectacular in Birmingham (57 in 248 AB), but mediocre in Charlotte (10 in 105 AB). A drop should be expected because he was getting pitched around in AA, but after walking 98 times last season in High-A, walks were believed to be a strength in his game. His power also took a dip, but 12 extra base hits in 105 AB isn’t bad. Without looking too much into his stats in AAA because of the small sample size, he has performed much better in August. In 20 games in August Flowers hit .306 with a .411 OBP (9 walks in 62 AB, that’s more like it) and .863 OPS.
So with somewhat regular playing time at the Major League level on the horizon, what should we expect from Flowers? He’s going to strike out a lot. He has a long swing and struck out in more than 1/4 of his plate appearances with the Knights so it shouldn’t be a shock if Flowers puts up Josh Fields like K numbers while he adjusts to Major League pitching. He has a lot of pop in his bat and if he can stick at catcher should be a great asset offensively. Don’t expect for him to hit for a high average this month, but if he maintains his walk rate he could be a useful bat for whatever miracle run the White Sox might try to make because he can hit the ball hard.
The most interesting part about this is to see how close to ready Flowers is. I wouldn’t have expected a promotion this soon and we probably wouldn’t have seen Flowers up if the Sox weren’t falling apart right now. With nothing to lose, it’s a ‘why not?’ situation, but this could be important for what Ken Williams does in the offseason. If he and the front office like what they see from Tyler to close the season, they won’t spend money to add or bring back hitters (Dye?). Flowers is cheap so he shouldn’t have to rake to earn a spot on the team next year. Hey, at least it’s a reason to watch the team the rest of the season.