Padres Prospect Interview: Cole Figueroa

The San Diego Padres felt so good about Cole Figueroa, they started the young prospect off in High-A Lake Elsinore. His polished attitude, defense, and demeanor lent credence towards that decision.

You and your twin brother were both drafted by Toronto in 2006. How has that experience and the subsequent years feeding off each other made you a better ball player?

Cole Figueroa: Yeah I think so. It's always been a little bit of a competition, we've always pushed each other when we were younger. Now, it's kind of a bond. We call each other and make sure that we're doing alright. It just brings us a little closer and it's fun.

Does it make it easier in the off season when you're trying to find someone to work out with?

Cole Figueroa: Yeah it definitely makes it easy. The problem is he's in school still. So during the fall semester he only comes home for Christmas break so I still have to find someone. But I have a little brother at home too whose only sixteen. We're all baseball players.

Your father Bien played with St. Louis in the major leagues. How has he been able to help you through the process of professional baseball?

Cole Figueroa: It's helped a lot. He also managed in the minor leagues so I got the chance to go during the summers and just watch how everyone goes about it. I feel like it was a good experience for me and my brothers to have that and it's definitely helped prepare me a lot for coming out to spring training and getting ready.

Are the things he is telling you about the professional game at all different today from when he was playing?

Cole Figueroa: Yeah I guess there's stuff behind the scenes that he can tell me; little things to look for. But really everyone has to come out here and work hard. You want to fit in. You don't want to come out here and make a fool of yourself.

You came into a system that preaches a patiently aggressive approach – one that you already have. With runners in scoring position last season, it seemed you might have gotten away from that. Was there pressure to do more in such situations as you look to impress the Padres?

Cole Figueroa: I didn't get many at bats so I think that the numbers are a little skewed. You don't get many chances to do it so maybe, I got a hundred at bats and the fifteen chances in running position or in scoring position, that number is just a little skewed. It could have been 500 or 250. Something ridiculous, or something moderate.

There have been some who believe you profile better at second base. Is that a fair assessment?

Cole Figueroa: Wherever they need me, second or short. Whatever is going to move me up faster or progress my learning curve. I'll take whichever one they throw at me. I feel comfortable at both. It's just something that's good that I can play two positions. It definitely helps.

You come out here to spring training and you've been assigned to the double A club. But you've been playing with some guys who have some experience as well, is that a benefit?

Cole Figueroa: Yes, definitely. Guys like Lope who have gone through the system. He's definitely been a big help out here, making sure everyone's in the right spot. And it's good. Because you get to learn from the older guys and get the experience and let them tell you some things and it's a lot of fun.

Your ability to make contact makes you perfect in the two-hole. Is that a spot you feel you can do the most damage?

Cole Figueroa: You can say that. People are going to profile guys. But I feel comfortable wherever. Two hole, lead off, nine hole wherever. Like said wherever they need me and wherever I'm going to move up faster, that's fine. It really doesn't matter where I hit in the line up. I just have my single goal approach and that's to do what I go out there to do.

You came out to the early hitter's camp. How can that help to prepare you for this season?

Cole Figueroa: It's going to help me a lot. You get out here and get some extra hits early on in the season. You get some one-on-one time with some of the big guys out here. Tony Muser and Greg Fusion. They actually come out here and work with you. So it's definitely a big help to my swing and my approach.

Were there changes you felt you had to make to have a successful professional career?

Cole Figueroa: You have to stay consistent, but you also have to change some things, because all of the things that worked on a college level won't transfer to a pro-game. You have to have your ears open and try stuff. Some things are going to work for you and some things are not. So you just have to be open minded.

You hit five homers in Eugene – is that blossoming power and do you feel there is more in the tank as you mature?

Cole Figueroa: You never know with home runs. I've always had a little bit of gap to gap power. So it didn't surprise me that I hit that many in a short time, but you know maybe next year I go out and hit ten. So it doesn't actually accumulate the way it looks. But it doesn't matter to me about power. I just got to get on base. You know how they say ‘you either have to get on base or slug guys in' so I have to get on base.

As a sophomore eligible guy who came out, do you feel like you have a higher ceiling than some of the other guys?

Cole Figueroa: No, I think that once you get to this level whoever plays the best will be the guy. Of course when you go a little high in the draft, they'll give you a few more chances. But realistically when you come out here and you play, it's whose going to produce for your team that day.

Was there ever any doubt that you would sign?

Cole Figueroa: No, I really wanted to play professional baseball. It was a mindset beforehand. It took a while because of contract issues, but it was a good process, and everyone on both sides was happy and it was good.

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