Padres Prospect Interview: Cole Figueroa

Fort Wayne, IN: Cole Figueroa found his game at Parkview Field and the Midwest League. Regular playing time and a relatively healthy knee have been conduits towards success.

You went to Lake Elsinore to start the year and came down to Fort Wayne. What do you think was missing in Lake Elsinore that you have found in Fort Wayne?

Cole Figueroa: I think I just started off cold and wasn't hitting the ball very well in the beginning. Then I got hurt and came back and played well for a couple of games. The big league guys came for a week and a half and I didn't play for that time. I came back and went 0-for- and then got to get in. I started off slow and then not getting a lot of at-bats.

I started off slow and had to fight some things, getting hurt and trying to play through that.

The injury was the same as last year, correct?

Cole Figueroa: A torn meniscus, yes. A guy took me out from second base from behind during a game.

I had surgery in the off-season – it took me three months to get totally healthy. It is something you can play through so I told them I don't want to take three months and miss the season. If they sent me back (down to Fort Wayne) that was fine. I just need at-bats.

What can you do to strengthen that knee so it does not happen again?

Cole Figueroa: A torn meniscus is kind of hard to explain. Once you tear it, it does not heal by itself. It is one of those areas that not a lot of blood flows to – you have to make sure you are well-stretched and nothing else around it is weak and that you don't do something else to your leg that can make you miss the whole season.

You have worked with Tom Tornicasa on some of his different drills. One that I saw was where you would take a step into the box with your back foot to feel the weight on it before separation and stride through the ball. What are those drills going to help you with and help you take into the game?

Cole Figueroa: I think it is taking it step-by-step. If you feel something wrong with your swing, you can adjust during at-bats instead of adjusting day-by-day. It will help you not make the same mistake three at-bats in a row.

You came back to Fort Wayne and were on base in every game early on. Is there a confidence level that ignites in that kind of situation?

Cole Figueroa: I think so – and playing every day is also good. I get to get out there and play everyday and that helps. You get to see the pitching and velocity. Sometimes when you don't play everyday, 90 looks like 95. It is tough to pick up.

When you start hitting well, you get that confidence and it starts to carry over.

What have been the challenges of working between second base and shortstop?

Cole Figueroa: I think the biggest challenge has been my arm condition to play short. I will play second base for a week or two and then go back to short and my arm – the first couple of games it isn't there. Taking ground balls – I feel like I can play anywhere on the diamond, even third and first, although you probably wouldn't put me at first with height regulations. I just feel like the arm strength is the biggest thing.

One thing you mentioned to me is you found some things that would work in college but wouldn't work in the professional ranks. What kinds of things?

Cole Figueroa: I think you can get away with at-bats – getting a little long or not paying attention to the pitcher. You have to pay attention to how they pitch you in every at-bat because they are going to do it all game if you don't adjust. I think that is the biggest difference between here and college.

What kind of things do you pick up when you are sitting in the dugout looking at pitchers?

Cole Figueroa: Sometimes you can catch someone tipping – but that is kind of tough. Just the way they throw to the guys in front of you or the way they throw you in your first at-bat. It is a big deal because if they are successful that first at-bat, nine times out of 10 they will do the same thing in your next at-bat until you prove you can hit the ball.

When Blake (Tekotte) gets up, I watch how they throw him since he is a left-handed hitter.

Cole Figueroa: I was grateful for the opportunity to go there. I wish I could have played a little better and got more playing time. I am thankful for the chance to do that and will get back there and show them I can do it. Wherever they send me, I will focus on playing well.

Your walk—to-strikeout ratio has always been pretty close and there are times when you have drawn more walks. You do you think you have been to aggressive at times, especially coming off the injury?

Cole Figueroa: A little bit. Even in the beginning of the season, when I was struggling a little bit, I was swinging at a lot of first pitches and was swinging early in the count. That is what happens when you struggle. You go up there and see the first pitch and want to go after it.

Everyone is going to struggle at some point. It just happened to me in the beginning of this year. I am glad I could get out of it. It shows me something that I can go through a rough patch and get out of it. I am thankful I didn't dig myself into a deeper hole. Some guys go two or three months without getting out of.

I thank the hitting coaches – Spenc (Shane Spencer) and Torni for sticking with me and working with me each day and tweaking things.

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