Heading into the 2015 season, the San Francisco Giants have some pretty big question marks in their starting rotation. Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Tim Hudson are firmly entrenched in three of the five spots, and manager Bruce Bochy has stated that Tim Lincecum will be a starter next year, despite his struggles. Internal help may not be readily available just yet, but it is coming soon.
Kendry Flores is a 22 year-old (will turn 23 on November 24th) pitcher from the Dominican Republic. He’s been in the Giants organization for six years and is consistently ranked among among the Giants top prospects. He spent the 2014 season on the team’s 40-man roster.
Progress has been somewhat slow for Flores up to this point. He made his professional debut in 2009 as a 17-year old in the Dominican Summer League. Flores was quite impressive that year, going 7-2 with a 2.18 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 66 innings.
Flores spent this past season with the Class A-Advanced San Jose Giants, and his numbers weren’t really that eye-popping (4-6, 4.09 ERA, 1.259 WHIP, 112 strikeouts in 105.2 innings.) However, it is important to know that he was dealing with a shoulder injury that eventually ended his season in early August.
In Flores’ six seasons in the organization, he has put up some pretty strong totals. So far in his young career, he is 31-24 with a 3.47 ERA, 1.138 WHIP, .239 opponent average, alongside 443 strikeouts and 111 walks in 458.2 innings.
The young man’s best asset is his control. He’s known as a great command pitcher, as he consistently pounds the strike zone. An impressive 3.99 K/BB ratio for his career proves that. In 2013, he tallied the best mark in the entire organization with an awe-inspiring 8.06 K/BB rate.
Flores’ fastball is his best pitch. He throws a four-seamer that normally sits between 93 and 95 mph and a two-seamer that runs 91 to 93 mph. He has great command over both, as he can pretty much pinpoint where he wants to throw them. The two-seam fastball also has solid late, tailing-movement that makes it difficult to be squared up.
The fastball is complemented by a pretty good changeup, which provides approximately 10 to 12 mph difference from the fastball. He also has very good command of the changeup. Flores also features a slider and a heavy, 12-6 curveball, both of which are average to above-average secondary pitches.
Flores is very sound, mechanically. He has a smooth motion that is easily repeatable start to start. His delivery is nice and compact, and he doesn’t fly open after delivering his pitch. He also takes a relatively short stride step, which leaves him with a good place to plant his foot over and over again. After making his pitch, he leaves himself in a good fielding position.
Flores can already be called a Dodger-killer. In early 2014, he squared off with Los Angeles right-hander Josh Beckett, who was on a rehab assignment. Flores pitched the game of his life, as he didn’t allow a hit through the first five innings of the night. He ended up throwing seven innings of one-run ball, giving up only two hits and striking out six.
Flores has been rated as a potential fourth starter in the future. But he is still very young and will continue to develop into a good pitcher.
And hopefully, he can have more great outings against the Dodgers.