Detroit Tigers prospects Dillon Dingler, Wilmer Flores named to 2022 All-Star Futures Game

Detroit Free Press

Catcher Dillon Dingler and right-handed pitcher Wilmer Flores, a pair of prospects playing for Double-A Erie, will represent the Detroit Tigers at the 2022 All-Star Futures Game.

The game will be played July 16 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles as part of the MLB All-Star Game festivities. Dingler and Flores are scheduled to be in Los Angeles from July 15-17.

“We’re both super excited,” Dingler said Thursday. “It is a great honor to represent the Tigers at this event.”

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Dingler is the Tigers’ No. 3 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, while Flores comes in at No. 14. The Tigers selected Dingler with the No. 38 overall pick in 2020 out of Ohio State.

“For each of them, at some point, I wouldn’t be surprised to see either one touching Triple-A (Toledo) this year and getting a look at them at the next level,” Ryan Garko, vice president of player development, said Thursday. “They’ve certainly, in stretches, showed that they’re dominating the Double-A league right now.”

Dingler: ‘Less is more’

In 67 games for the SeaWolves, Dingler is hitting .240 with seven home runs, 37 RBIs, 25 walks and 92 strikeouts in 67 games. The 23-year-old has a .325 on-base percentage and .725 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

His 32.2% strikeout rate is concerning, although his Double-A walk rate has more than doubled, going from 4.3% in 2021 to 8.7% in 2022.

“Some of it is just the mental strain every day of being a catcher that we also want to hit in the middle of the lineup,” Garko said. “It’s a lot. He’s doing well at both, and he’s working really hard at both. Being able to handle a (pitching) staff is No. 1 on our list, and that is where he’s probably excelling the most.”

Over the past three weeks, Dingler believes he has locked into a simpler approach in the batter’s box, something the player development department has been working on with him since last season.

Dingler is hitting .323 with two home runs, 13 RBIs, three walks and 10 strikeouts in eight games since June 26.

The Tigers think their catcher of the future can limit chasing pitches outside of the strike zone and create more contact by eliminating unnecessary movements, a product of small tweaks to his swing mechanics.

“Right now, I’m at a very good spot,” Dingler said. “I feel like doing the least is also providing me with enough power to still have good numbers. It’s always the less is more talk. You don’t have to generate the power because it will come. I really started to notice that last week. I put a couple balls out of the yard, and they were some of the easiest swings of my career.”

Flores: ‘Really looks like a horse’

The Tigers signed Flores, who pitched for Arizona Western College, for $20,000 as an undrafted free agent in July 2020. Two years later, he is one of their best pitching prospects.

The 21-year-old has a 2.30 ERA with 10 walks and 85 strikeouts across 58⅔ innings in 15 games for High-A West Michigan (six games) and Erie (nine games). He earned his promotion May 17.

“The Futures Game, I was waiting for that,” Flores said Thursday. “Seriously, I was waiting for that. After my first month in West Michigan, I was waiting for that because I knew I was doing really well. This is something that’s really good for me and my career.”

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For the SeaWolves, Flores has a 3.92 ERA with eight walks and 50 strikeouts in 39 innings. Flores hasn’t noticed a big difference between the High-A and Double-A levels, besides the hitters being a little bit more advanced.

“It’s not an easy at-bat for any hitter,” Garko said. “He’s a big, strong guy, and there’s deception in the delivery, and there’s a good pitch mix. What’s been really exciting is that he’s held those numbers he had in West Michigan in Erie. He really looks like a horse.”

His best pitches are his mid-90s fastball, which reaches 98 mph, and high-spin curveball; his slider (which replaced a cutter) has vastly improved since spring training. He also throws a changeup, considered his fourth pitch.

In 2021, Flores averaged 3.3 walks per nine innings and 12.3 strikeouts per nine in the Florida Complex League and Low-A Lakeland. This year, he averages 1.5 walks per nine and 13.0 strikeouts per nine.

“We stress throwing the ball over the plate,” Garko said. “He’s not scared. It’s good stuff. If you look at major league pitchers when they’re in the minor leagues, they threw the ball in the zone, and they still got swing-and-miss, still got people out and still struck people out.

“I think Wilmer is a prime example of that. He throws the ball over the plate and still gets swing-and-miss and still gets strikeouts. Sometimes, you can have some outliers, where a guy is getting a ton of chase out of the zone, and then you get to Triple-A and the big leagues, and some of the chase goes away. That’s not Wilmer.”

Flores is the younger brother of San Francisco Giants infielder Wilmer Flores, a 10-year MLB veteran.

He pitched in the Arizona Fall League in 2021.

“I’m not trying to prove anything,” Flores said. “I’m just trying to enjoy the game and do my best on the field. That’s all for me.”

Meet the prospects

Here is the full American League Futures Game roster (with organization in parentheses): 

Pitchers: Brayan Bello (Boston Red Sox), Taj Bradley (Tampa Bay Rays), Hunter Brown (Houston Astros), Ky Bush (Los Angeles Angels), Wilmer Flores (Detroit Tigers), Emerson Hancock (Seattle Mariners), Jack Leiter (Texas Rangers), Ricky Tiedmann (Toronto Blue Jays), Ken Waldichuk (New York Yankees), Yosver Zulueta (Blue Jays).

Catchers: Yainer Diaz (Astros), Dillon Dingler (Tigers), Shea Langeliers (Oakland Athletics).

Infielders: Gunnar Henderson (Baltimore Orioles), Curtis Mead (Rays), Jhonkensy Noel (Cleveland Guardians), Nick Pratto (Kansas City Royals), Ceddanne Rafaela (Red Sox), Spencer Steer (Minnesota Twins), Anthony Volpe (Yankees).

Outfielders: Denzel Clarke (Athletics), Oscar Colas (Chicago White Sox), Jasson Dominguez (Yankees), George Valera (Guardians), Matt Wallner (Twins).

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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