Cole Figueroa

Born: June 30, 1987
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 185
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Drafted: 6th Round, 195th Overall, 2008 (Padres)
How Acquired: Minor league free agent
High School: University of Florida
Agent: N/A


Figueroa is an interesting player:  He hits for average, seldom strikes out and draws walks.  Despite good offensive numbers for an infielder, though, he doesn’t seem to interest teams much as a possible major leaguer due to a lack of power and speed.  The plate discipline has been remarkable.  For his minor league career, he’s drawn 383 walks and fanned only 280 times.  Even at the AAA level he has 163 walks and 108 strikeouts, and in the majors he has four walks and four strikeouts in 57 plate appearances.  He’s never hit for power, though, and scouts have always rated his speed as well below average, leaving him with inadequate range at his college position of shortstop.  He has good hands and an average arm.  In the low minors, he split his time between second and short, but he’s played mostly third in the upper minors.  A left-handed hitter, he seems to hit lefties and righties about the same.  The Pirates signed Figueroa to a minor league deal for 2016, with an invitation to spring training.

Figueroa is something of a computer and stats geek who’s programmed his own routines for analyzing baseball stats.  That certainly isn’t likely to hurt him with the Pirates.

A-:  289/410/474, 114 AB, 6 2B, 5 HR, 24 BB, 16 K, 7-9 SB

In his debut, Figueroa split his time between short and second, while showing his exceptional plate discipline from the start.  After the season, Baseball America rated him the Padres’ 28th best prospect and the Northwest League’s 19th best.

A:  319/408/403, 238 AB, 15 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 37 BB, 38 K, 10-17 SB
A+:  187/256/227, 75 AB, 3 2B, 6 BB, 14 K, 5-5 SB

Figueroa continued to produce in low A, again while splitting his time between short and second.  He turned 22 at mid-season, which made him a little old for a prospect at that level.  BA ranked him 29th in the Padres’ system, his last appearance on a BA prospect list.

A+:  303/408/392, 482 AB, 25 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 81 BB, 54 K, 26-35 SB

Figueroa spent the entire season in the high-offense California League.  Despite his lack of speed, he stole a lot of bases.  He played mainly second.  After the season, the Padres sent him to Tampa Bay with three other players for Jason Bartlett.

AA:  283/375/398, 410 AB, 20 2B, 6 3B, 5 HR, 55 BB, 41 K, 9-14 SB

Figueroa had largely the same season as ever in AA.  The Rays played him mainly at second and third, with just a dozen games at short.

AA:  314/419/512, 86 AB, 6 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 17 BB, 9 K, 1-3 SB
AAA:  286/344/386, 311 AB, 17 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 26 BB, 22 K, 3-5 SB

The Rays sent Figueroa back to AA despite his good season the year before.  After he had a big month of April, they moved him up to AAA.  He played exclusively at second and third.

AAA:  286/361/367, 461 AB, 20 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 54 BB, 30 K, 10-12 SB

Figueroa spent the entire season in AAA, continuing to hit for average with excellent plate discipline.  He played mostly at third.

AAA:  282/371/389, 262 AB, 13 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 39 BB, 29 K, 4-5 SB
:  233/286/326, 43 AB, 2 2B, 1 3B, 4 BB, 4 K

Figueroa returned to AAA, but finally reached the majors when the Rays brought him up in May when Ben Zobrist got hurt.  Figueroa was up only briefly, but returned for six weeks starting at the end of June.  He played mostly third and short in the minors, second in the majors.  The Rays did not call him back up in September and designated him for assignment after the season.  Figueroa chose free agency and signed a minor league deal with the Yankees.

AAA:  292/355/359, 449 AB, 19 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 44 BB, 47 K, 4-8 SB
MLB:  250/250/500, 8 AB, 2 2B

Other than a very brief callup in July, Figueroa spent the season in AAA, where he played mostly third and short.  The Yankees outrighted him at the beginning of September.

Figueroa is very similar to Dean Anna, a utility infielder who was with the Pirates in AAA briefly, and also to Ivan DeJesus, Jr., who was with the Pirates briefly following the Joel Hanrahan trade.  The Pirates never called up Anna or DeJesus, as they’ve preferred players with no offensive ability but better gloves, like Michael Martinez and Jayson Nix.  Of course, then they’ve ended up using guys like that as pinch hitters, a role in which they’ve been useless.  They seemed enthused about Figueroa from the start, though, and he made the team out of spring training.  His plate discipline gives him the potential to be very useful as a utility infielder who can handle pinch-hitting duties.  It’s possible, though, that he’ll only be in the majors until Jung-Ho Kang returns.

UPDATE:  Figueroa had two stints in the majors and did little with the bat in limited opportunities.  In late June, the Pirates evidently decided that Adam Frazier offered more potential and they designated Figueroa for assignment to make room for Frazier.

2016: Major League Minimum
Signing Bonus: $400,000
MiLB Debut: 2008
MLB Debut: 5/16/2014
MiLB FA Eligible: 2016
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: 5/15/2014
Options Remaining: 0 (USED:  2014, 2015, 2016)
MLB Service Time: 0.067
June 6, 2006: Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 9th round, 270th overall pick.
June 5, 2008:
Drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 6th round, 195th overall pick; signed on July 24.
December 17, 2010: Traded by the San Diego Padres with Brandon Gomes, Adam Russell and Cesar Ramos to the Tampa Bay Rays for Jason Bartlett and cash.
May 15, 2014: Contract purchased by the Tampa Bay Rays.
November 20, 2014: Designated for assignment by the Tampa Bay Rays; released on November 24.
December 15, 2014: Signed by the New York Yankees as a minor league free agent.
July 9, 2015: Called up by the New York Yankees.
September 1, 2015: Designated for assignment by the New York Yankees; outrighted to AAA on September 3.
November 6, 2015: Became a free agent.
December 3, 2015: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a minor league free agent.
April 3, 2016: Called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
June 24, 2016: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates.