Position: Right-handed Pitcher
After signing with the Dodgers in 2004, Figaro appeared in only five games as a reliever for the affiliate in the Dominican Summer League. The Dodgers released him following the season, and he was picked up by the Tigers and again assigned to the DSL for the 2005 campaign. In his second tour through the league, Alfredo finished 8-2 which tied him for second in the league in wins. He also tied for fourth in the circuit in strikeouts (100) en route to earning a promotion stateside for the 2006 season.
As a 21-year old debuting in the Gulf Coast League, Figaro managed a 0.70 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 38 1/3 innings of work. Though Figaro started four games for the GCL Tigers, he worked mostly in relief and ranked second among league relievers in batting average against. For his stellar performance, he was named a GCL Post-Season All-Star, and was also selected as the TigsTown GCL Pitcher of the Year.
The 2007 season saw Figaro jump to the Florida State League briefly, before going back down to extended spring training after faltering badly in his first taste of full-season ball. Once the short-season leagues began, Alfredo managed a 3.38 ERA and 4-2 record for Oneonta; starting eleven games for the club. He finished strong with Oneonta by no allowing an earned run over his final three regular season starts, to earn the TigsTown Oneonta Pitcher of the Month award.
Things really started to perk up for Alfredo at the start of 2008, as he dominated the Midwest League in his second try at full-season ball. He won TigsTown West Michigan Pitcher of the Month honors in both April and June, and was the runner-up to teammate Jon Kibler in May. For the Midwest League season, Figaro posted a dominating 12-2 mark with a 2.05 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. His twelve wins and shiny ERA were both enough for third in the league, while his WHIP was fifth among MWL pitchers.
The Tigers promoted Figaro to Lakeland in July, and while he wasn't nearly as dominant in his time there, he still showed impressive stuff in six appearances spanning 29 innings. Now eligible for the Rule 5 draft, the Tigers recently purchased his contract and added him to the 40-man roster to protect him.
Figaro is another power arm in a system full of them. While he can dial his fastball up to 95-96 with ease, he has been working diligently in the 92-93 range with added movement and hopes of improved control. Throughout his career, Figaro has struggled to throw strikes with regularity and it has hampered his performance significantly. He generates enough movement on his heater that if he could simply throw it for strikes low in the zone, he would be an extremely effective pitcher.
Alfredo's curveball can get loose at times, but generally shows very good promise. Like his fastball, he has trouble throwing it for strikes, but when he is in control of it, the pitch can be deadly for opposing hitters. He also mixes a change-up that he has shown some aptitude for, but is typically a below-average pitch. He will need one of the two off-speed pitches to make strides to really be a workable option as he moves to the higher levels of the minor leagues.
With his control problems and lack of a dominating secondary pitch, Figaro is probably destined for the bullpen long term; a role he has filled at the past. Most scouts don't see the closer role in Figaro's future, but he could make a nice 7th or 8th inning reliever.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG A
Figaro proved healthy yet again under another increased workload. After doubling his workload from 2006 to 2007, he again doubled it in 2008. Though he tired late in the season, he was not experiencing any abnormal soreness, and after a brief rest, looked strong in the Instructional League.
After a long season and plenty of innings, Figaro looked rested and strong again in Instructs, a good sign for a pitcher that needs to show marked improvement quickly. He's been at an advanced age for his level at every step of his career, and he'll have to hit the upper levels in 2008 to prove he's got a shot to contribute at the big league level.
The Tigers clearly like his arm, as evidenced by their decision to add him to the 40-man roster last week. Figaro will enter spring training with a chance to compete for a slot on the Erie pitching staff. With his velocity and attacking style, he will likely be on the radar for a call to Detroit should reinforcements be needed in the bullpen. I doubt he has the stuff to start at the big league level, but he could be an impact middle reliever within the next twelve months.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.