Changing positions can be a difficult task. When the baseball team needed an outfielder, however, Paco Figueroa did not hesitate to fill the role.
Figueroa, a junior from Gulliver Prep High School, had mostly played infield throughout his baseball career. His speed and versatility made him the natural choice when the team needed an outfielder.
“I’ve been an infielder most of my life, but I like to play every position,” Figueroa said. “So I’ll make that adjustment. If they told me to play catcher, I’d make that adjustment too.”
Figueroa’s adjustment to the outfield will be aided by his twin brother, Danny. Danny was injured at the Team USA tryouts in the off-season and is expected to be out until April. The ‘Canes turned to Paco to take over Danny’s position and leadoff spot in the lineup.
“Being a leadoff hitter most of my life, it’s natural for me. I’m comfortable there and I know I just need to get on base however possible,” Figueroa said.
Figueroa’s speed makes him a natural for the leadoff spot. He has the ability to steal bases and is always a threat on the base paths. In addition, he has shown that he can hit for power. His home run against Tennessee earlier this season tied the game in the ninth inning. The Hurricanes went on to win the game when the next batter, Joey Hooft, also went deep.
“Paco has gotten stronger and his speed has increased,” Assistant Coach Gino Dimare said. “He has done a good job of being more patient and getting on base. The more patient he has been, the better pitches he is getting to hit.”
Figueroa said that he prides himself on consistency in all aspects of the game. He won’t talk about what he does well or poorly because he wants to do everything well.
“I don’t like to bring up my strengths,” Figueroa said. “I like to think I can be an all-around player. That’s what I need to work on, being a complete player.”
Danny Figueroa helps to motivate his twin brother. They have played together their entire life ever since Little League. The only time they were separated was this summer when Danny went to the Team USA tryouts and Paco played in the Cape Cod League. Of course, being brothers, there is always friendly competition.
“Having Danny on the same team is a huge motivator,” Figueroa said. “We compete in everything against each other from who is faster to who can bench press more. That really helps us both as players.”
The goal of Figueroa is the same as most players on the University of Miami: he wants to win games and have success in Omaha, Nebraska.
“My personal goal is to win the national championship. We need to win it and I want to do whatever I can to help us get there,” Figueroa said.
Things have not always gone smoothly at Miami for Figueroa. Last season, he lost his job in the starting lineup and seemingly lost confidence. To make matters worse, he won a starting job this year, only to be injured before opening day.
“Getting injured was tough to start the season,” Figueroa said. “Everyone wants to play on opening day.”
The Hurricanes will need Figueroa if they are going to make a national title run. His versatility in the field, speed on the base paths, and bat make him a very unique weapon.
“Paco is a little more fiery than Danny,” DiMare said. “Last season, he lost some confidence but now he has it back. Losing his job hurt him, so it is good to see that swagger back. He is playing with a ton of confidence right now.”
Darren Grossman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.