Starting From Bottom, Cole Figueroa Eyes The Top | The Process Report

Starting From Bottom, Cole Figueroa Eyes The Top

Acquired in 2010 from the Padres, Cole Figueroa is only piece of the Jason Bartlett trade puzzle that has yet to play at the major-league level for the Rays. Despite that fact, he might still have a big-league outlook.

Selected in the sixth-round of the 2008 draft by the Padres, the former Florida Gator has spent last two seasons working his way through the upper levels of the system. The son of a former minor-league player and coach, Figueroa does not have one tool that sticks out as above-average. Couple that with a lack of size and you get adjectives like grinder or scrappy thrown around in regards to his play—true to form he boasts baseball intelligence beyond his years, which helps make up for lack of raw ability.

Figueroa spent his first few professional seasons rotating between middle infield positions, but has slightly switched focus his defensive focus with the Rays. He continues to man the keystone position, however, he has dropped shortstop from the resume in favor of third base. As far as skills, he is more solid than spectacular. Those attributes would make him a playable backup at the major-league level. Offensively, Figueroa has been an on-base base machine. A skilled eye at the plate has led to excellent walk rates and limited strikeouts.

Figueroa’s walk total decreased upon advancement to Triple-A, but he still finished the season with more walks than strikeouts as a member of the Durham Bulls. His 180-pound frame limits his power potential but his solid contact skills, and understanding of the strike zone, should make for a decent batting average. With an overall package built around substance over flash, the most plausible outcome for the 25-year-old is becoming a utility player. That skill set may not be flashy but Figueroa’s brand of “boring”—in addition to his makeup and baseball IQ—may land him in St. Petersburg, or another big-league city, before it’s all said and done.

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