How this Rangers 3B prospect was molded by former All-Star pitcher

May 10th, 2024

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. -- Gleider Figuereo grew up in Las Matas de Farfán, Dominican Republic, with two former Rangers pitchers as his role models: his dad, Victor, and former Major Leaguer Edinson Volquez.

Unlike his dad or Volquez, Figuereo showed potential at the plate and a love for playing the infield, which made it an easy decision to become a position player instead of taking the mound. And now, the Rangers’ No. 25 prospect is on a mission to create his own legacy in professional baseball.

“I was a better hitter than my dad,” Figuereo said in Spanish. “He wanted to be a hitter as well, but he had other abilities.”

The younger Figuereo began to make his mark even before turning pro.

At 14, he was invited to Volquez’s academy, which primarily focused on producing professional pitchers, in the Dominican Republic. Figuereo became one of the first position players to develop through the academy. Since then, it has helped pitchers and position players alike sign with various clubs, including the Rangers, Rockies, Royals, Cardinals and Pirates.

“At first, Volquez didn’t work with position players,” Figuereo recalled. “My dad took me because Volquez expressed interest in wanting to start training batters.”

Nonetheless, Figuereo trained there for a few years before catching the attention of a Rangers scout. When he signed for $80,000 in 2021, he became the first position player to sign out of Volquez’s academy.

Volquez first delivered the news to Figuereo’s dad, who was full of emotion upon finding out his son was going to play for the same organization that he had during his professional tenure, which lasted from 2002-04, culminating in a brief stint at Class A Short Season. Gleider got the opportunity to travel with his dad for the signing, making the experience even more special.

Following his signing, the younger Figuereo played in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in 2021 and the Arizona Complex League in '22. He had a standout ACL season, hitting nine home runs in 35 games and garnering postseason All-Star honors on the circuit. He was subsequently promoted to Single-A Down East at just 18 years old and played in six games down the stretch.

“Before, it felt more like a game because you were trying to sign,” he said. “Now it’s more serious because you’re trying to play and get promoted.”

Figuereo has been playing with Down East for the past two seasons as both his offensive and defensive numbers have indicated a need for further development. In 2023, he produced just a .623 OPS across 107 games and committed 23 errors in the process.

“I want to improve my defense to earn my spot in the next level of the organization,” he said. “Controlling my throws to the bases is something that I have been working on a lot now and I worked on during the offseason.”

Figuereo returns to Volquez’s academy to continue his training during the offseason. The 19-year-old said having the opportunity to go home and train with the former MLB All-Star is an advantage, and he uses it to experiment with different adjustments before the season begins. While there, he shares his experience and knowledge with his younger brother, Breiner, who is in a familiar situation as a position player in Volquez’s academy.

Breiner aspires to follow in his older brother’s footsteps.

“I am four years older than my brother, so I try to be his friend,” Figuereo said. “Volquez always tells me that I should text [my brother] and to talk to him because that doesn’t always happen with ballplayers.”

On the receiving end of advice from his current and former academy teammates, he also does what he can to share his knowledge with them, all in pursuit of being a better teammate.

“I’ve been here two years and many players on the team are new,” Figuereo said. “I wouldn’t consider myself a leader, but I try to talk with them because I know the league well and I just try to help them out.”

With his dad, Volquez and countless others supporting him along the way, Figuereo will continue making his way down the path in pro baseball.