Padres Prospect Interview: Cole Figueroa

Quality seasons in quiet manners are a funny thing. San Diego Padres prospect Cole Figueroa may not hear his name called often unless you are a prospect junkie, like us, but the second baseman has put together what we consider to be a trypical season – great play in every facet of the game.

Cole, one of the things Doug Dascenzo mentioned is that you're always in the middle of it. What did he mean by that?

Cole Figueroa: I think he just means that I'm always in the game. I'm aware about what's around me. I try to be in the right position at the right time. Even if something happens, I can switch around and adapt to what's going on.

You were a clutch performer last yea and again this seasonr. You hit 325, runners in scoring position. Different mentality?

Cole Figueroa: Yeah, a little more aggressive. When runners aren't on base, I try to be a little more passive, try to get on base, maybe more walks. When runners get on, especially in the scoring position, I definitely try to be aggressive a little bit earlier in the count.

This new philosophy isn't really that new to you with the Padres. They're preaching being a little bit more aggressive early in the count. Is that a fair assessment?

Cole Figueroa: Yeah, it is definitely. I still have to be a little bit more patient than maybe an Allan Dykstra or a Nate Freiman. I still have to be patient, getting my walks. They don't want me hacking that first pitch, going for a home run. They still want me to get my walks in. I think for maybe power guys, it's a big change, but for most of the guys who are just trying to get on base, it isn't that big of an adjustment.

How's the meniscus?

Cole Figueroa: It's doing well. I haven't had any problems. I made it through instructs, minicamp and the first half of the season. I'm doing well right now. I'll hopefully have a healthy season this year.

You didn't take going to Ft. Wayne – and obviously you got increased playing time to go with it – hard last season. How was that mentally for you? Did you have to prepare yourself?

Cole Figueroa: It wasn't tough for me just because I've been around baseball for a long time. My dad coached the minor leagues. I know how it goes. I know I didn't start out like I would have liked to in Elsinore and then I got hurt. A lot of things didn't happen my way last year, and this year, I feel I am redeeming myself. It really wasn't tough for me at all, just a little bit of adversity. Everyone is going to have a little bit during the minor leagues or in their career. It's just how you handle it. You can fold up or make something of it.

One of the things you mentioned was better pitch selection. Is that what it boils down to, as far as being patient?

Cole Figueroa: I think so. It's not the fact of swinging at the first pitch. It's whether that pitch is the one you're looking for. I think when I got to Fort Wayne, I definitely was a lot more patient. I started off struggling in Elsinore and started swinging a lot more at first pitches, trying to get myself out of it, which probably wasn't the best thing to do. I should have stayed patient a little bit longer.

You have pretty simple mechanics in the box. Does that make it easier to adjust on a game by game basis?

Cole Figueroa: I try. A big thing with me is that I try to go 15 at-bats doing the same thing and if it's working, keep going. If I do 15 at-bats, and I'm 0-for-15, then I try to switch something up a little bit, but I do try to keep it as close as possible.

There are guys that generate power on their own, and then there are other people who almost use the pitcher to generate power. Do you feel like you fall into that latter category?

Cole Figueroa: I don't want to talk too much about power. (Roving batting instructor Tony) Muser would kill me. I just try. If I do connect on one, it's probably more so a good swing, rather than me generating power from myself. I have to focus more on the swing, rather than getting the ball up in the air or getting underneath the ball.

Some people in the organization were a little bit surprised with your ability to play shortstop. Why?

Cole Figueroa: I think when you look at my first-step quickness, I'm not the fastest guy in the organization. They see front-end speed down to first base and they equate that to lateral speed, and it's a little bit different. I get good reads off the bat. What I don't do with ability, I make up with my instincts.

They're trying to breed Petco Park-type players. How does that fit into your game?

Cole Figueroa: I'd hope pretty well. I feel like I'm more of a gap-to-gap guy than a power guy. I can lay bunts down and do hit and runs, do little things that hopefully they're looking for. And, play defense. That's what they've been preaching big time. I feel like that's a part of my game that I'm pretty solid at, so hopefully that will carry me a little bit.

We all know you have a lot of great teammates and this does not take away from anyone you don't mention. If you could have one hitter hitting behind you in the lineup all season to offer protection, who would it be and why?

Cole Figueroa: Probably I would have to go with James Darnell or Sawyer Carroll. Those guys are definitely polished hitters, not just power-wise, but they can hit for a good average. Anyone that strikes fear in a pitcher both hitting for average and power is definitely a good buy to hit in front of.

Who is the one pitcher you are glad you have as a teammate and why?

Cole Figueroa: Simon Castro, for sure. It's unfair that he's in the minor leagues. Good guy, but I don't think I'd want to face him on a good day when he's on.

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