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11/1/07 The Higher Education Of Jesus Flores.

     The rules of the MLB Rule 5 Draft are such that they require any player chosen to remain on the 25-man roster or the DL of the Major League team that selects him, from outside another team's declared 40-Man roster, for the entirety of the following season, and if the player does not remain on the Major League roster of the team that has selected him, that team must "attempt" to return him to his original team through the waiver wire, where he is again open to claims by the other twenty-eight Major League teams.

     In order to be selected in the draft, a player must have been signed to a professional contract before his eighteenth birthday, and have been playing professionally through four Rule 5 drafts, or if signed after turning nineteen, has to have played through three Rule 5 drafts.

     The New York Mets, who signed Jesus Flores as a free agent out of Carupano, Venezuela in 2002, lost the twenty-two year old catcher to their former third base coach, who was very familiar with their organization, when Manny Acta joined the Washington Nationals as their new Manager in 2006.

     Flores had not played above Class-A ball in New York's system, so the Mets felt safe in exposing their prize catching prospect, (which much be especially hard after Paul Lo Duca became a free agent this week), even though Flores had hit 21 HR's and 32 doubles for 69 RBI's with the Mets St. Lucie affiliate in '05.

     Selected along with right-hander Levale Speigner, from Minnesota and left-hander Justin Jones, out of the Chicago Cubs organization, Flores was the only one to last through the season on the Major League roster, batting .244 with 9 HR's and 24 RBI's in 180 at bats over 79 games.

     Often a player would be returned to the Minor's in the season after a Rule 5 pick is selected, but what purpose would that serve with Jesus Flores? What better place to learn than as Brian Schneider's backup and under the watchful eye of Nationals Bench Coach Pat Corrales, himself a veteran of nine Major League seasons behind the plate?

     Brandon Harper might not like it, but Jesus Flores has already endeared himself to the DC Faithful, and Flores figures to be around for years to come in the Nation's capital. The Nationals, with Brian Schneider widely considered one of the best defensive catchers in the game, will surely provide a good model for Flores, who is already excellent defensively, and might soon surpass Schneider's skills with the bat...

*Jesus Flores Links*

mlb.com Nationals writer Bill Ladson's article on Flores selection:

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20061207&content_id=1754221&vkey=ne ws_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was

Jesus Flores' stats at baseballreference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/f/floreje02.shtml#TRANS

Flores fellow Rule 5 pick Justin Jones' stats at baseballcube.com:

http://thebaseballcube.com/players/J/Justin-Jones.shtml

Flores fellow Rule 5 pick Levale Speigner's stats at baseballcube.com:

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/S/levale-speigner.shtml

ESPN.com's Rob Neyer's helpful "Transactions Primer" containing Rule 5 description:

http://espn.go.com/mlb/s/transanctionsprimer.html

Pat Corrales' Major League stats at baseballreference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/managers/corrapa01.shtml