Last year about this time, the drama was just starting for Alfredo Figaro.
The Dominican righty was pitching winter ball in his homeland when he caught the eye of Brewers scouts. On December 19 the Brewers signed him to a minor league deal, but the transaction ran into a snag: Figaro was technically still under control of Japan's Orix Blue Wave, where he had pitched the previous two seasons. It took over a month, but Figaro eventually was able to secure his release from Orix and join the Brewers in Maryvale.
Figaro went on to win the Brewers' last roster spot and even pitched two shutout innings in relief on Opening Day. He got off to something of a hot start, posting a 2.11 ERA in his first 12 appearances, and by the end of May the struggling Brewers had moved him into the rotation.
That first start on May 28, though, may also have been a turning point in Figaro's season. He allowed four runs over just five innings in that outing and posted a 4.50 ERA the rest of the way, allowing ten home runs over 48 innings (1.87 per nine innings).
All told, in 2013 Figaro did a great job of limiting walks (just 1.8 per nine innings), but his home run rate (1.8/9) implied he may have kept his walk rate artificially low by throwing hittable pitches. His fastball sat up in the mid-90's and that'll play in the majors, but his main secondary offering was a slider that FanGraphs rated at around two runs below average per 100 pitches. That won't cut it.
Figaro's future with the Brewers may depend on factors outside of his control. Right now he probably fits into one of the last slots in the bullpen, but if the organization decides to get some veterans or depth out there then he could be on the outside looking in.
When you look at Figaro's collection of 2013 outings, one game clearly stands out. He was making just his second start of the season on June 12 against the Marlins but was dominant in the performance, working seven shutout innings with three hits, four strikeouts and no walks. He threw just 88 pitches in the game.
Figaro also had a pair of hits and scored a run as the Brewers cruised to a 10-1 win. Here are the highlights:
Figaro has one year and 155 days of MLB service time, putting him just under the cutoff for two years. Assuming he opens the season on the big league roster and remains there all year, he'll likely qualify for arbitration as a Super 2 player following the 2014 season, which would put him on pace to be a free agent before the 2019 season.
Previous MVBrewers posts can be seen at the links below:
#1: Carlos Gomez
#2: Jonathan Lucroy
#3: Jean Segura
#4: Kyle Lohse
#5: Norichika Aoki
#6: Jim Henderson
#7: Brandon Kintzler
#8: Yovani Gallardo
#9: Wily Peralta
#10: Scooter Gennett
Honorable mentions: Marco Estrada, Ryan Braun, Khris Davis, Tyler Thornburg, Aramis Ramirez, Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Bianchi, Caleb Gindl, Logan Schafer, Rob Wooten
Lesser Brewers: Burke Badenhop, Francisco Rodriguez, Jimmy Nelson, Donovan Hand, Sean Halton, Martin Maldonado, Hiram Burgos