Detroit Tigers observations: Pitching prospect Wilmer Flores ‘improving’ after injury

Detroit Free Press

LAKELAND, Fla. — Two weeks ago, Detroit Tigers prospect Wilmer Flores sprinted to first base during pitchers fielding practice.

He felt discomfort in his left hamstring.

The right-handed pitcher sustained his hamstring injury Feb. 19 and spent the next day, his 21st birthday, in the trainer’s room. It marked his first injury as a professional.

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“It was crazy,” Flores said Monday. “Mentally, I was down. But the next week, I was mentally stronger and more confident as I was trying to get back on the field. We want to come back better.”

The Tigers predicted two weeks as his timetable for a fully recovery.

Those two weeks are up.

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An on-the-mend Flores, whose brother is a nine-year MLB veteran, threw his first bullpen Saturday. He is throwing his second bullpen Tuesday and expects to face live hitters Friday.

“It feels so much better,” Flores said. “I’m improving. I’m ready for the next bullpen.”

The Tigers view Flores as one of their most talented young pitching prospects. He signed for a $20,000 bonus out of Arizona Western College in 2020 and made his professional debut in 2021.

Flores posted a 3.68 ERA with 24 walks and 90 strikeouts in 66 innings over 14 games (13 starts) between the Florida Complex League and Low-A Lakeland. He pitched six games in the Arizona Fall League, logging a 9.95 ERA with 16 walks and 17 strikeouts in 12⅔ innings.

“We have to change the approach and focus first on the injury,” Flores said. “The first thing is to be healthy, and then performance.”

Another injury update

The Tigers have completed three minicamp scrimmages at Joker Marchant Stadium, and while 18-year-old shortstop Cristian Santana has shined, 19-year-old shortstop Manuel Sequera has been inactive.

Sequera is dealing with a right shoulder injury.

“I’m feeling a lot better,” Sequera said Monday, walking into the minor-league clubhouse.

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His timetable for a full recovery is unclear.

Sequera signed with the Tigers out of Venezuela for a $750,000 bonus in 2019. He was named the Florida Complex League MVP in 2021, hitting .246 with 12 doubles, 11 home runs, 40 RBIs, 15 walks and 57 strikeouts in 46 games.

Monday’s practice

The minor-league players had an off-day Sunday, but minicamp activities returned to the TigerTown backfields Monday for a shortened practice.

The infielders and outfielders worked on defensive drills, with the infielders focusing on applying a tag at third base and second base. The pitchers long tossed, stretched, used weighted balls and played catch.

Only a few pitchers tossed bullpens.

Contact Evan Petzold at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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