FOURTH MEMBER OF 2018 CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM TO HAVE CONTRACT PURCHASED BY MLB AFFILIATE
November 27, Augusta, NJ – For the fourth time in the 2018 calendar year, the Sussex County Miners have had the contract of one of their players purchased by a MLB affiliate. This time, Can-Am League Championship Series hero Martin Figueroa had his contract purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals organization, the club announced today. Figueroa become the first Miners position player to have his contract picked up by an MLB organization, following pitchers Jesse Beal (in 2017), David Rollins, Alex Demchak, and recently Kenny Koplove.
It has been a busy off-season for Miners manager Bobby Jones, who was once again confident that an MLB affiliate was getting a good player in Figueroa, in this case the Cardinals. “He’s a high character guy,” Jones would say about the Elizabeth, NJ native. “He’s a great kid, he can really hit, he’s got a lot of versatility. I think the sky’s the limit.”
Jones would also praise the person that Martin was in the clubhouse. “High character, smart, smart guy,” the Miners field manager would add. “Fun, you know, really enjoys the game, really enjoys his teammates. They’re getting a great guy.”
Figueroa will most be remembered for his walk-off, three-run home run in Game 4 of the Can-Am League Championship Series against the Québec Capitales back on September 15 at Skylands Stadium. The three-run shot—his second home run of the game as he had hit a solo home run in the sixth inning as well—gave the Miners their first ever Can-Am League Championship and instantly became one of the most iconic moments in Sussex County sports and Can-Am League history.
Figueroa had a stellar 2018 campaign, hitting .328 with five home runs and 50 RBIs, good enough to earn him the Can-Am League Rookie of the Year honors. The product of the University of Rhode Island earned Player of the Month honors in June by hitting .422 in the month, with a staggering .515 on-base percentage and 12 multi-hit games. Martin earned Player of the Week honors for the week ending June 10, as he hit .444 (8-for-18) during the week, with two doubles, one triple, and nine RBIs in the week-long stretch.
Those numbers from a player who started the season as one of three catchers on the Sussex County roster—before Jones moved him to third base after opening weekend. “One, he’s a good athlete, and two, I thought he just swung the bat too well to be behind the plate,” Jones said. “He’s a high-end offensive player and I didn’t feel like him being behind the dish would be conducive for what we were trying to do.”
Figueroa now marks the fourth Miner to be sent to an MLB affiliate since August 12, something that Jones is certainly proud of. “It’s two things,” he would say about his role in moving players on to MLB clubs. “It’s gratifying from a standpoint of this is what I do to help guys like this to get another opportunity, and it’s just such a gratifying feeling.”
In particular, Bobby will remember the phone call when he told the man fans affectionately called “Figgy” about the move to the Cardinals organization. “Last night when I told Martin and to hear the excitement in his voice and everything, it was just a really cool experience,” Jones would reminisce. “My hair was sticking up! You know I’m bald, so my hair was growing as he was doing his thing! I’ve sent a lot of guys in the last two years and this was very special because I never felt like he should have been out (of affiliated ball).”
Photo: Black Raven Imagery