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Oops! All Astros: Johan Figuereo & Tim Borden

Today we’ll look at a reliever and an infielder who played 2022 in Houston’s lower minor leagues.

Throughout the current offseason, The Crawfish Boxes will be taking a deep dive into the Houston Astros system.

Namely, we’ll be recapping all 316 players to appear at any level through the 2022 campaign. Today we’re looking at the 19th and 20th players in the series.

Johan Figuereo

Johan Figuereo is a six-foot, 172 lb. right-handed relief pitcher from San Cristobal, DR. Born on June 27, 2000, Figuereo signed with Houston through free agency on April 30, 2021. Initially assigned to the DSL Astros, he pitched in a dozen games through the season, starting seven of them. He struck out 32 in 36 23 innings, allowing 17 earned runs (and 10 unearned) on 25 walks, 33 hits, and 10 wild pitches. That was good for a 1.582 WHIP and an unseemly 6.1 BB/9.

Clearly, Figuereo was not ready for prime time just yet, or even matinee for that matter. He was issued a lateral promotion to the FCL, and split the 2022 season between their Blue and Orange squads. He appeared in another 13 games, but this time only started twice.

Most of Figuereo’s metrics suffered in comparison to the past season, aside from him reducing his wild pitches to only three and his BB/9 down to 5.0. In 32 3/2 innings, he walked 18 and struck out 22, but surrendered 29 earned runs on 40 hits. On August 6, he pitched his only perfect inning of the season, a 1-2-3 ninth and his first professional save in a 4-2 win against the FCL Marlins.

Figuereo’s 7.99 ERA and 1.776 WHIP at the rookie level is hardly encouraging, especially considering he’ll turn 23-years-old in the middle of next season. If the Astros elect to keep him on, he won’t begin the campaign higher than rookie ball.

Tim Borden

Tim Borden is a six-foot-two, 200 lb. infielder from Jeffersonville, IN. Born on September 1, 1999, he was initially a 37th round pick of the Cleveland Indians in the 2018 draft out of Our Lady of Providence HS in Clarksville, IN.

Of course we now know that Borden didn’t sign with the Tribe, instead electing to attend and play for Louisville. After two seasons of unremarkable results with the Cardinals, He slashed out a .335/.466/.689 line with the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets, with 20 homers and 63 RBI.

The Astros spent their 16th round choice on Borden, 493rd overall. Historically, nine players have eventually reached the majors after being chosen 493rd overall, most famously Don Mattingly. After signing for $50,000, Borden was assigned briefly to the FCL Astros Orange, then the Blue squad a day later. In 11 games at the rookie level, he was seven-for-27 with four RBI. He also drew seven walks against eight strikeouts, showing a lot of patience in a small sample size.

Borden was moved up to the High-A level in the last week of August, and played in 15 contests through the end of the season. On August 27, he went three-for-three with a walk, a homer, and four RBI in an 11-3 win over the Winston-Salem Dash. In a six-game stretch from September 1 through 7, he totaled four multi-hit games, going 10-for-26 with a double, three home runs, and 10 RBI.

Overall at the High-A level, Borden’s short look was a rousing success, with a .298/.385/.632 line and six round-trippers with 17 RBI. Defensively, he played at third base (96 23 innings, .833 fielding percentage), shortstop (61 innings, .917), and second base (23 23 innings, 1.000). Although he’s technically an “unrated” prospect, I could easily see a future where he makes a major league impact. A reasonable timeline could see him in Houston as soon as late-2024.