This is a new feature on the site, mainly because we're still in the doldrums of prospect season and we want to get discussion going. We'll be going through the alphabet in October and November to pick one prospect a day before our top prospect coverage starts in December. There's no real rhyme or reason to who we'll talk about, and we're open to suggestions for some letters.
The upper-level middle infielders are sure to be a topic of conversation heading into next year. Tim Beckham and Hak-Ju Lee, of course, and Tyler Bortnick too. But what of the fourth, likely Durham starting 2B Cole Figueroa?
The only position player acquired from San Diego in the Jason Bartlett deal, Figueroa was coming off a .303/.408/.392 year in the hitter-friendly Cal League. Promoted to double-A for 2011, he hit .283/.375/.398 for the Biscuits. After playing primary second base in 2010, he played 58 games there in 2011 along with 36 at third base and twelve at shortstop.
His walk rate dropped from 2010, but only down to a still-impressive 11.3%. His strikeout rate also fell with just 41 in 488 plate appearances (8.4%). His IsoP was .115, a .026 improvement from the Cal League and his highest since 2008 in his pro debut.
Range is a more important measure of defense, but Figueroa appears extremely sure-handed with a .983 career fielding percentage (though baseball-reference notes minor league fielding numbers are incomplete). For reference, Tyler Bortnick's career mark is .969. Figueroa doesn't steal bases like Bortnick, but he did swipe 26 in 2010 (just nine in 2011).
Given the range of positions he played, it seems the Rays are prepping him as a potential utility infielder. What do you think of his potential?