Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tyler Flowers Gets The Call

Following the fastball that found Ramon Castro's throwing hand, resulting in him breaking that hand, I guessed that the White Sox would call up 25 year old prospect Tyler Flowers and indeed that is the case.

The right handed hitting Flowers who was acquired in the Javier Vazquez trade is an interesting prospect in many ways. A very big young man at 6'4" 240lbs, he's obviously rather over-sized for the position. For many years that size largely kept him from being an adequate defender, but the difference that I saw in him during spring training, coupled with what I've seen of him throughout this season have me believing that his defense has improved to the point where he could be adequate (but probably still a bit below average) on an every day basis.

The greatest strength in Flowers game of course, is his strength. While all of that size has prevented him from being a quality defender, he is extremely strong, as evidence by 80 career Minor League homeruns and 220 total extra base hits. Many of those long balls have been of the prodigious variety, and he's certainly strong enough to hit the ball out of any ballpark. In addition to the impressive power he does a very good job of drawing walks, doing so in 14.5% of his plate appearances. That power/walk combination has led to a career MiLB OPS of .876.

His weaknesses unfortunately are every bit as self evident as his strengths. The biggest thing that anyone would notice with Flowers is that he strikes out a ton. It's difficult to understate just how badly he struggles with strikeouts as he's done so in 28% of his total Minor League at-bats, and that rate as jumped to an astronomical 35.2% during his three stints (673 total ABs) in AAA. As a result of that Flowers hasn't hit for an impressive average since reaching AAA, hitting just .244 at that level.

While that rather significant weakness won't endear him to many fans, it should help that the team is regularly running out Adam Dunn, and realistically, Flowers can't be any worse than that. One could assume with near certainty that this weakness will only be further exploited against Major League pitchers who will surely exploit his propensity for swinging and missing at breaking stuff.

As a part time player however Flowers will hopefully have the advantage of getting spot starts in place of regular catcher A.J. Pierzynski. That should enable manager Ozzie Guillen to use Flowers against only the left handers he thinks he'll stand the best chances against, and if he does so well, Flowers should be capable of providing the team with a fair amount of positive offensive contribution.

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