Dodger Prospect Jonathan Figueroa

35th in a series as we count down among the top Dodger prospects.

Position- Starting Pitcher
Residence-Acarigua, Venezuela
DOB-Sept. 15, 1983
B/T- L-L
04 Club(s) - Vero Beach (high A); Columbus (low A)

After breaking in in sensational style in 2002, Figueroa has spent most of the past two seasons lost in the woods, groping to find a path back to what once was. He had originally come to this country in 2001 after being dissatisfied with the offers received in his native Venezuela. Performing in various showcases across the country, he got increasingly better, finally commanding a $500,000 bonus from the Dodgers in January 2002.

Breaking in that summer he moved quickly from Great Falls (2-1, 1.42) to South Georgia (5-2, 1.42), seemingly never having a bad outing. However, the next spring he showed up sadly out of shape, tried to compensate, only to develop tendinitis. When he came back from that his mechanics were altered considerably, he couldn't find the proper slot and suffered accordingly with a 1-8, 4.94 record at South Georgia.

This past season started as more of the same. After going 0-1, 7.00 at Vero Beach, he was dropped back to Columbus. After a lot of bullpen sessions with various coaches, he seemed to find a comfortable slot at 3/4 much as he had before and he ran off some impressive innings. True, his record there was only 3-7, 6.90 but his late showings were strong enough as his fast ball climbed to 94 mph. He also possesses a sharp curve that's extremely tough on lefthanders.
Because he had outings where he would reel off three or four strong innings then run out of gas, some feel his best shot is in the bullpen. If he's anywhere near what he was in 2002, he'll probably be in some rotation, though, perhaps starting at Vero.