Local Boy Can Make Good

There are two Mets spring training invites who happen to be former NYC high school stars — and with a little luck, one of them might make the big club come April.

If you were paying attention to — or playing — high school baseball 10-15 years ago, then you may already know the names Nelson Figueroa and Ruddy Lugo. In fact, there are some MetsToday readers who have batted against Lugo.

“Figgy” hails from Lincoln High School in Brooklyn — the same school that produced former Met and matinee idol Lee Mazzilli. Ruddy reported to homeroom at Xaverian, also in Brooklyn, the same alma mater of St. John’s stars Rich Aurilia and Chris Mullin (Mullin, of course, was a hoops, not baseball player). He’s also the younger brother of shortstop Julio Lugo of the Red Sox.

Just in case you see these guys at Peter Luger’s a month from now, here are some pics:

Ruddy Lugo

Ruddy Lugo pitching for the Mets

After seeing them both briefly during my trip to spring training, I’d have to say that Figueroa has the best shot, between them, of making the team — though both are longshots. Ruddy is still raw, throwing with good velocity but not much control. Figgy is just the opposite — a guy with not much velocity but good command and plenty of guile. To me, Figueroa is a “poor man’s Pedro” — a guy who “pitches backwards”, using his change-up and curveball to set up his fastball. He never the throws a pitch at the same velocity or to the same location twice in a row, and lulls a batter with his 78-84 MPH junk before freezing him with an 89-MPH “heater” that looks more like 99 after all the slow stuff. With a few good outings and some luck, Figueroa could wind up stealing the last bullpen spot. So far, luck is on his side — the Mets are reportedly shopping holdovers Scott Schoeneweis and Jorge Sosa, and Tony Armas, Jr. has yet to report due to visa issues. The longer he hangs around, the better chance he has of winning a spot.

Nelson Figueroa

Nelson Figueroa of the Mets

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Walnutz15 March 5, 2008 at 9:47 am
    Ruuuuddy, Ruuuddy, Ruuuuddy…..

    (Disclaimer: to get the full effect of the chant, maybe the Mets can invite Jon Favreau to reprise his role as D-Bob in the stands at Shea…..provided Ruddy ever gets the call.)

    I’ve played with and against Mr. Lugo — and wish him the best of luck with this opportunity. It’d be cool to see a teammate of mine/hated opposition make it with my favorite team. He was always talented, and above all else — knew his only ticket was baseball…hence, he has a genuine love for the game.

    Guys like that are fine in my book. It’s the ones that have the talent — but don’t give a crap about it otherwise that irk me.