HOUSTON- As the Texas Southern Tigers baseball team prepares for the upcoming season a glimpse into the success TSU could potentially have can be found with ease. With the return of senior pitcher Abel Flores the Tigers appear to be in extremely good hands.
Flores will be called upon to anchor Texas Southern’s pitching rotation. The 5-9, Houston native has been a staple within the Tigers baseball program for the past four years. His leadership, work ethic, determination and drive have helped put the Tigers on the road to becoming one of the top programs within the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
TSU head baseball coach Michael Robertson knows the importance of having a player of Flores caliber on the mound.
“Abel is the quintessence of Texas Southern Tigers baseball and a consummate professional,” said Robertson. “He is consistently one of the hardest working student-athletes in our program. He is a leader on and off the field as well as in our community. He does everything we ask of him. We’re expecting him to have a breakout 2013 season and solidify himself as one of the elite pitchers in Division I baseball.
After three complete seasons Flores is on pace to be Texas Southern’s all-time statistical leader in appearances, games started, innings pitched, games finished, and at bats against.
“I really try not to think about breaking records and the pressures that comes with that,” said Flores. “After each and every game I go home and I try to figure out what I can improve on. I never get caught into think about records. I know that if I stay focused on what I need to do every day to get better those things will all fall into place.”
In 2010, Flores had his longest career streak of scoreless innings streak of 9.1 over five appearances from Aril 10, 2010 to April 26, 2010. Over that scoreless streak Flores helped the team go 7-3 while individually going 2-0, with 1 walk, 15 strike outs (14.8 K/9) allowing just 4 hits, and holding opposing hitters to a .133 batting average.
The following year Flores was critical in TSU’s climb to the playoffs as the Tigers went 8-4 in the second half of the season. Flores went 3-0 in 4 starts over 28 innings pitched. He amassed 15 strikeouts while holding his opponents to a .198 batting average.
In 2012, Flores was also instrumental in helping Texas Southern tie its best start after ten games (8-2) in school history (8-2 in 1999). During that 10-game stretch he pitched in five games with one start, going 1-1 and collecting 1 save. He totaled 10.2 innings, allowing 8 hits, with an opponent batting average of .222, while walking 4 batters and striking out 15 (13.2 K/9) with a ERA of 1.69
Texas Southern has gone 7-6 in the SWAC Tournament during Flores' career. He has pitched 22.2 innings during the conference tournament going 0-1 in 6 appearances and 2 starts. He collected 20 strikes outs (8.1 K/9) while walking 14 batters and held opposing hitters to a .190 batting average. Flores also hit .400 with 2 RBI’s in three games played during the SWAC Tournament.
“There’s definitely nothing we want more as a team than to go out a win a SWAC Championship,” said Flores. “Over the course of my career I’ve always tried to be a leader. Every day in practice I try to encourage and push my teammates to succeed. We’ve gotten so close to winning a SWAC Championship in the past. Our team is hungry this year and our goal is to not only win our conference but also to go out and compete well in the NCAA Tournament.”
As a reliever, Flores has made 33 appearances, going 6-2 with 5 saves and collecting 71 of his innings pitched. As a bullpen contributor he has an ERA of 3.04, held opponents to .211 batting average and 10.1 K per 9 innings. While as a starter Flores has made 24 starts going 5-9. Over his 131 innings as a starter Flores has an ERA of 5.91, allowing opponents a batting average of .274 and 5.7 K per 9 innings.
With such impressive numbers it won’t be a surprise if one day in the near future Flores hears his name called in the Major League Baseball Draft. But whatever the case maybe at the conclusion of his collegiate career Flores knows he will leave Texas Southern a well round individual.
“I’ve had great experiences here at Texas Southern,” said Flores. “Coach Rob provides us with structure and he gets us ready to compete both mentally and physically. He is a big reason why I’ve been able to have so much success at TSU. Coach Rob doesn’t just care about what happens out on there on the field. He cares about all of us becoming not just great baseball players but also great men.”
Flores and the Tigers baseball team will start fall camp in mid September. The Tigers first regular season game of the 2013 season is slated for February 15th
at the Jackson State Invitational in Jackson, Miss. Abel Flores by the numbers:
Has a career record;
10 wins (9th All Time-17)
5 saves (3rd All Time-9)
2 saves in 2011 and 2012 is 7th all-time single season record
56 appearances (4th all time-78) 20 appearances in 2011 is 6th all-time single season record
23 games started (9th all time-34)
195 Inning pitched (4th all time-240)
160 strike outs (4th all time-245)
112 walks (3rd all time-120) 47 walks in 2011 is 10th all-time single season record
.253 opponent average (4th All time-.237) .215 opponent average in 2011 is 1st all-time single season record, .218 opponent average in 2012 is 2nd all-time single season record
22 games finished (3rd all-time-38) 8 games finished in 2010 and 2011 is 5th all-time single season record
888 at bats against (4th all time-889)
24 wild pitches (2nd all-time-25) 10 wild pitches in 2010 is 3rd all-time single season record
14 Most picks offs (1st all-time) 7 runners picked off in 2010 is 2nd all- time single season record
7.4 Strikes per 9 inning; 9.42 K/9 in 2010 is 8th all-time single season record