DUNEDIN, FL. – For Jorge Flores, work ethic isn’t as much a trait for baseball as it’s a way of life.
As healthy an attitude as that is, the reality is that for a 5-foot-5 shortstop from Baja California, Mexico, he really had no choice but to work hard to get to where he is today.
How else would he have been able to be drafted to the pros not once (46th round, Arizona Diamondbacks, 2010), but twice (19th round, Toronto Blue Jays, 2012)?
“I just try to work hard not just in baseball, but in life,” Flores said. “As a son, brother, and just as a person.”
For Flores, his journey began in earnest when he was 17, when he made the decision to leave his native Mexico for Hamilton High School in Arizona, a decision made all the more difficult with the fact that Flores didn’t speak a word of English at the time.
“I didn’t know any English when I got there and nobody on my team spoke any Spanish,” Flores said. “So thanks to baseball, I had to learn and I had to learn English fast.”
Then there’s the matter of his small frame, always a knock against him in the eyes of scouts.
“Everybody thinks that height matters but personally, I don’t think it does … I think all that matters is how hard you play and work on your game.”
Flores’ actually thinks that his stature works to his advantage, given the fact that most pitchers are accustomed to working against players much taller.
“I’m pretty sure it’s harder on the pitcher to find the strike zone,” Flores said. “But, for me, it doesn’t change my approach [at the plate].”
With the Vancouver Canadians last year, Flores enjoyed a solid rookie season as the team’s every-day shortstop, posting a .265 batting average, .355 OBP, 11 stolen bases in 60 games played.
Though his knack for getting on base is promising, it’s the defensive side of the ball that Flores feels is the strongest part of his game.
“I think defence is my biggest strength,” said Flores, who turned 26 double plays in 54 games at shortstop with the Canadians last season.
“I try to [make sure] I’m running hard on every play, every ground ball, every fly ball.”
His play at the plate is something to keep an eye on as well, according to Canadians head coach Clayton McCullough.
“He’s got a real power swing that he can drive to all fields with and has great physical attributes.” McCullough told the Canadians media department in an interview last July.
“He’s a competitor who wants to contribute and be in for those big moments and get those big hits.”
The end result was winning the team award for most exciting player of the year.
Looking ahead to the upcoming season, Flores is focused on more hard work wherever the Blue Jays assign him, but his long-term goal is clear.
“I want to play in the big leagues…that’s my main goal.”