Spikes infielder Edwin Figuera entered the month of July with his batting average at .294, a respectable number at any level. Figuera has not been content with respectable, though, going on a red-hot tear since the month began.
Figuera started the month with a five-game hitting streak, during which he collected four two-hit games. After going hitless in three of four games from July 11-14, he’s hit safely in his last three. In the three games before Thursday night’s game against the West Virginia Black Bears, Figuera went 7-for-13 at the plate.
During the month of July, the 20-year old Venezuelan is 18-of-48 (.375). Four of his seven extra base hits across two levels this season have come in the 12 contests he’s played this month. Figuera is tied for third in the New York-Penn League in batting average among qualified hitters at .333.
Figuera helped the Spikes tally a season-high in runs and hits during a 12-3 series-clinching win against West Virginia on Wednesday. He collected his third three-hit game of the season, going 3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored. Entering Thursday night’s series finale against West Virginia, Figuera had two or more hits in six of his last nine games.
Figuera spent all of last season with the Spikes. He batted .284 with 11 doubles and 12 stolen bases in 56 games and started the season with Class A Peoria, where he batted .304 in 20 games.
After playing shortstop most of last season and in all 20 games with the Chiefs this year, Figuera was switched to third base when he was assigned to State College on June 15. Figuera made five errors in 169.2 innings with Peoria. He has nine errors in 203 innings with the Spikes.
What’s On Deck?
Following five losses in six games, the Spikes won back-to-back games against West Virginia on Tuesday and Wednesday to clinch their first series victory since July 9 and escape the bottom of the New York-Penn League’s Pinckney division.
State College will hope to continue the momentum into its weekend series against the Auburn Doubledays starting at home on Friday. The Doubledays currently sit in second place in the division at 16-15, while the Spikes enter Thursday in fourth place at 13-19.
The Spikes took two of three from Auburn during the first week of July. State College pitched its way to 3-1 and 8-0 wins in the first two games of the series before dropping the third game, 4-2.
Auburn outfielder Jacob Rhinesmith, an 18th-round pick out of Western Kentucky by the Wasington Nationals, is one of the team’s top hitters at .333. The lefty is tied with Figuera for third in the league among qualified hitters in batting average. He has a base hit in eight of his last nine games.
The team also has two of the Nationals’ Top 30 prospects. Infielder Jose Sanchez, ranked the organization’s No. 17 prospect by MLB.com, is hitting .262 with four doubles for the Doubledays. Outfielder Telmito Agustin, ranked No. 22, is batting .186 with two doubles and a homer.
Former State College coach makes MLB debut
In 2006, Mike Shildt was with the State College Spikes as a bench coach in his third season coaching professional baseball. Shildt has come a long way in the last 12 years.
On Sunday, the St. Louis Cardinals promoted the 49-year-old from bench coach to interim manager, replacing Mike Matheny who was fired on Saturday night.
Shildt made his MLB managerial debut against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, leading the Cardinals to a 6-4 win to pick up his first MLB victory. Shildt, who has been with the Cardinals organization since 2004, became the first former Spikes coach to manage at the big-league level.
The Charlotte, North Carolina, native left State College to be a position coach for the Cardinals former affiliate in Batavia in 2007. He became the organization’s minor league field and spring training coordinator in addition to its Rookie-level manager at Johnson City in 2008. Shildt eventually spent stops managing at the Double-A and Triple-A level for the Cardinals before becoming part of the team’s MLB staff in 2017.
Catcher Alexis Wilson is back with the Spikes after playing eight games with Peoria. Wilson started the season with the Spikes before he was assigned to the Chiefs on June 28. He hit .130 in 28 at-bats. Wilson was assigned to the Spikes on Tuesday and made his return on Wednesday against West Virginia. He went 1-of-4 with a walk, two runs scored and two RBIs. He is 2-of-16 with four walks and two runs scored in five games with State College this season.