NELSON FIGUEROA
RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
  Born: May 18, 1974
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 185
Bats: Both
Throws: Right
Drafted: 30th Round, 833rd Overall, 1995
How Acquired: Signed as a free agent
College: Brandeis University
Agent: ACES

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

Figueroa has made a career out of being an emergency callup/AAA depth sort of pitcher.  Despite spending parts of nine seasons in the majors, including five in which he made ten or more starts, he’s barely accumulated enough service time to be eligible for arbitration.  Even so, in most of his major league stints he’s done a respectable or, often, even good job.  His ERA+ has been 100 or better in four of his nine seasons and it’s 92 for his career, which is better than what many teams get from their 4th and 5th starters.Figueroa is a finesse pitcher, relying mainly on curves and sliders.  His fastball has generally averaged somewhere around 87.  He also throws the occasional change.  He’s not especially a groundball or flyball pitcher and has had trouble with gopher balls in some seasons.  He’s also had trouble with LH batters; they’ve posted an OPS against him of .887 during his career, compared to .725 by RH batters.  The Pirates, facing a shortage of starters in AAA due to injuries at both the major league and AAA levels, signed him shortly after the Astros released him in late August 2011.

1995
R+:  7-3-0, 3.07 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 76.1 IP, 2.6 BB/9, 9.3 K/9 

Pitched well in advanced rookie ball in 1995, striking out more than a batter an inning.

1996
A:  14-7-0, 2.04 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 185.1 IP, 2.8 BB/9, 9.7 K/9 

Had outstanding season in low A, including four complete game shutouts.

1997
AA:  5-11-0, 4.34 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 143 IP, 4.3 BB/9, 7.3 K/9 

The Mets tried jumping Figueroa to AA and he had only limited success there.

1998
AA (NYM):  12-3-0, 4.66 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 123.2 IP, 3.2 BB/9, 8.4 K/9
AA (Ari):  2-2-0, 3.70 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 41.1 IP, 3.5 BB/9, 6.3 K/9 

The Mets traded Figueroa to Arizona late in the season and the Diamondbacks moved him up to AAA.  He had a significant gopher ball problem throughout the season, allowing 27 HRs in 165 total innings.

1999
R:  0-1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3 IP, 0.0 BB/9, 6.0 K/9
AAA:  11-6-0, 3.94 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 128 IP, 2.9 BB/9, 7.5 K/9 

Figueroa pitched well in the offense-crazy environment in the Pacific Coast League in 1999, going 11-6, 3.94.

2000
AAA (Ari):  9-4-0, 2.81 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 112 IP, 2.2 BB/9, 6.3 K/9
AAA (Phi):  4-3-0, 3.78 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 50 IP, 2.0 BB/9, 6.3 K/9
MLB (Ari):  0-1-0, 7.47 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 15.2 IP, 2.9 BB/9, 4.0 K/9

Pitched very well in AAA and made major league debut with the Diamondbacks.  They traded him to the Phillies in the Curt Schilling deal in July.  He made eight solid starts in AAA for the Phillies

2001
AAA:  4-2-0, 2.47 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 87.1 IP, 1.9 BB/9, 7.6 K/9
MLB:  4-5-0, 3.94 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 89 IP, 3.7 BB/9, 6.2 K/9 

Figueroa split 2001 between AAA and the Phillies.  He had a good ERA in the majors, but his peripherals were less good.

2002
AAA:  5-0-0, 3.63 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 39.2 IP, 2.9 BB/9, 5.7 K/9
MLB:  1-7-0, 5.03 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 93 IP, 3.6 BB/9, 4.9 K/9 

The Brewers claimed Figueroa off waivers at the beginning of the 2002 season and he spent the majority of the season in the majors, struggling.  A lot of the trouble was the 18 HRs he allowed.  The Brewers released him after the season.

2003
AAA:  12-5-0, 2.97 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 151.1 IP, 2.2 BB/9, 7.2 K/9
MLB:  2-1-0, 3.31 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 35.1 IP, 3.3 BB/9, 5.5 K/9 

Figueroa signed with the Pirates for 2003 and spent most of the season in AAA.  He pitched very well.  The Pirates called him up in early August and he started three games, then pitched out of bullpen for the rest of the season.  He pitched well in the majors, too, but the Pirates outrighted him to AAA after the season.

2004
AAA:  12-8-0, 4.19 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 152.1 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 7.6 K/9
MLB:  0-3-0, 5.72 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 28.1 IP, 3.5 BB/9, 3.2 K/9 

Figueroa pitched most of 2004 again in AAA, but not as well as 2003.  He allowed 20 HRs, nearly twice as many as the year before in almost exactly the same number of innings.  The Pirates brought him up again in August and he pitched poorly as a swing man.  The team released him after the season.

2005
Did not play

Figueroa didn’t pitch in organized baseball.

2006
AAA:  3-5-0, 4.38 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 76 IP, 2.5 BB/9, 5.2 K/9
IND:  0-1-0, 2.79 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 9.2 IP, 2.8 BB/9, 8.4 K/9 

Opened the season in independent ball, but signed a minor league deal with the Nationals in May.  He spent the season in AAA, where he had a 4.38 ERA at New Orleans, which played in a pitcher’s park.

2007
MEX:  8-6-0, 3.87 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 153.2 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 5.5 K/9 

Spent the year in the Mexican League.

2008
AAA:  4-7-0, 4.43 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 113.2 IP, 2.6 BB/9, 7.7 K/9
MLB:  3-3-0, 4.57 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 45.1 IP, 5.2 BB/9, 7.1 K/9 

Figueroa signed a minor league deal with the Mets for 2008 and spent two years with them, bouncing back and forth between AAA and the majors.  The Mets were beset by injuries in those years and had to call Figueroa up repeatedly to make emergency starts.  He didn’t pitch well, with a very high WHIP, but managed to keep his ERA respectable.  His strikeout rate of 7.1 was surprising for a veteran finesse pitcher who’s always been a AAA depth guy and who throws 87 mph.

2009
AAA:  7-5-0, 2.25 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 112 IP, 1.9 BB/9, 7.6 K/9
MLB:  3-8-0, 4.09 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 70.1 IP, 3.1 BB/9, 7.5 K/9

Figueroa continued traveling back and forth between AAA and the Mets.  In April, for instance, they called him up to start one day, then designated him for assignment the next.  He pitched better than he had in 2008 and continued posting a surprisingly good K rate.

2010
AAA (Phi):  3-0-0, 3.95 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 19 IP, 1.4 BB/9, 8.5 K/9
MLB (Phi):  2-1-1, 3.46 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 26 IP, 3.1 BB/9, 5.2 K/9
MLB (Hou):  5-3-0, 3.22 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 67 IP, 3.4 BB/9, 7.8 K/9 

The Phillies claimed Figueroa off waivers shortly after the season started and he pitched well for them out of the bullpen early in the season.  The Astros claimed him off waivers in July and he pitched surprisingly well for the rest of the season, both starting and in relief.

2011
AAA (Hou):  6-7-0, 6.50 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 81.2 IP, 3.3 BB/9, 5.7 K/9
AAA (Pgh):  1-1-0, 4.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 18 IP, 2.0 BB/9, 7.0 K/9
MLB (Hou):  0-3-0, 8.69 ERA, 2.10 WHIP, 29 IP, 5.9 BB/9, 5.3 K/9 

Figueroa opened season in the Astros’ rotation and struggled badly in eight games, five starts.  Houston sent him to AAA in mid-May and he didn’t pitch much better there.  The Astros released him in late August and he signed with the Pirates, who needed somebody to make a few starts at Indianapolis as the season wound down and pitchers got called up.  He started three games and pitched decently.

The Pirates needed Figueroa as a short term fill-in, so he should be moving on.  It might seem improbable for him to bounce back as a 37-year-old after the year he had, but he’s made improbable comebacks repeatedly in his career.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Majors
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MLB.com
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2010: $416,000
2011:
$900,000
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 1995
MLB Debut: 6/3/2000
MiLB FA Eligible: Eligible
MLB FA Eligible: 2014
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 0
MLB Service Time: 3.160
TRANSACTIONS
June 1, 1995: Drafted by the New York Mets in the 30th round, 833rd overall; signed on June 6.
July 31, 1998: Traded by the New York Mets with Bernard Gilkey to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Willie Blair and Jorge Fabregas.
July 26, 2000: Traded by the Arizona Diamondbacks with Omar Daal, Travis Lee and Vicente Padilla to the Philadelphia Phillies for Curt Schilling.
April 3, 2002: Selected off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers from the Philadelphia Phillies.
October 11, 2002: Released by the Milwaukee Brewers.
January 6, 2003: Signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
November 20, 2003: Outrighted to AAA by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
August 20, 2004: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
October 14, 2004: Released by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
May 9, 2006: Signed as a minor league free agent with the Washington Nationals.
October 15, 2006: Became a free agent.
February 6, 2008: Signed as a minor league free agent with the New York Mets.
April 2, 2008: Contract purchased by the New York Mets.
May 13, 2008: Designated for assignment by the New York Mets; outrighted to AAA on May 16.
August 27, 2008: Contract purchased by the New York Mets.
November 3, 2008: Became a free agent.
December 3, 2008: Signed as a minor league free agent with the New York Mets.
April 18, 2009: Contract purchased by the New York Mets.
April 19, 2009: Designated for assignment by the New York Mets; became a free agent on April 22.
April 25, 2009: Signed as a minor league free agent with the New York Mets.
August 3, 2009: Contract purchased by the New York Mets.
April 7, 2010: Selected off waivers by the Philadelphia Phillies from the New York Mets.
July 21, 2010: Selected off waivers by the Houston Astros from the Philadelphia Phillies.
May 10, 2011: Designated for assignment by the Houston Astros; outrighted to AAA on May 12.
August 19, 2011: Released by the Houston Astros.
August 23, 2011: Signed as a minor league free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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