Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

June 25, 2013

Flores brings Arizona desert talent to West Virginia hills

PRINCETON — Just games into the Appalachian League season, Travis Flores has emerged as one of the leading hitters this season for the Princeton Rays. Through the first four games, Flores, a right-handed hitting first baseman, is batting .385 with two home runs and leads the Rays in both of those categories. He also carried a four-game hitting streak into Tuesday night’s game against Burlington.

“I’ve gotten off to a good start so far,” Flores said. “I’m getting good pitches and putting a good swing on it.”

A resident of Gilbert, Ariz., Flores was born in Michigan and moved with his family to the desert southwest at around the age of 10. He has always loved the game of baseball and in Arizona was able to play at all times of the year.

“The warm weather lets you play more ball,” Flores said. “There’s definitely a lot more work and a lot more swings and baseball is baseball, all year around. It’s great.”

As a youngster and still today, Flores admired and pattered his game after a first baseman who has had a stellar career in the majors.

“Albert Pujols is my favorite player and I play first base and try to keep a swing like his,” Flores said. “The main thing I like about him is his swing, the way he keeps his bat through the zone and he usually doesn’t miss hit his pitch when he gets it.”

Drafted in the 11th round of the 2010 draft, Flores played that year for the Rays’ Gulf Coast League team, but was not listed on any of the organization’s rosters the past two years. Assigned to the P-Rays this season, Flores talked about the next step up the baseball ladder.

“It feels nice having fans out at the games,” Flores said. “The pitching is pretty much about the same, each team has guys throwing 90-plus (miles-per-hour). The weather plays a big part in it, the night games here, it’s a better environment to play in.

“The humidity in Florida just drains you. We get out there in the morning and it’s already 95 degrees by 8:00, 9:00. You’re sweating and it really takes the energy out of you by the time the game starts at 1:00. Here you get to conserve some of that energy by playing at night in better weather.”

The oldest of four children, Flores talked about his sports-playing siblings.

“I’ve got a brother who just graduated from high school, he’s going to Scottsdale Community College, he’s a catcher,” Flores pointed out. “Then I’ve got two sisters, both softball players. One’s a junior in high school and the other one is going to be an eighth grader in middle school.”

Both of Flores’ parents were athletes as his dad was a football player and his mom played soccer.

“They really didn’t push me to play baseball,” Flores said. “It’s just something I wanted to do and the siblings followed along with it.”

His advice to his brother and sisters, “Play hard, keep your head on straight. Play every day like it’s your last because you never know when your career could end. Enjoy every moment.”

Every minor league player hopes some day to advance to the majors, but for right now he has some short-term goals as a Princeton Ray.

“I want to stay healthy and get a lot of at-bats, have a lot of quality at-bats and everything will play out,” Flores said. “As long as I’m swinging at good pitches I will be able to put the numbers up that I want to put up and help our team.”

— Contact Bob Redd at

bredd@bdtonline.com

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