FORT WAYNE, Ind. - The 2009 TinCaps made history as the first Fort Wayne team to win a Midwest League championship. Now five years later, they're on the cusp of another momentous accomplishment.
With the promotion of infielder Cole Figueroa to the Tampa Bay Rays, 15 members of the 2009 TinCaps have put on a Major League Baseball uniform. According to Sports-Reference.com President Sean Forman, only the 2003 Lansing Lugnuts, with 16, have produced a higher total of big leaugers in the 68-year history of the Midwest League.
Figueroa, 26, made his Rays debut Friday on the road against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The former Florida Gator was selected by the San Diego Padres in the sixth round of the 2008 MLB Draft. Following the 2010 season, Figueroa was part of a trade that sent him to Tampa Bay's organization.
"It's just one of those things you can't really describe until you're walking into the stadium, and you're just like, 'Wow, you made it after all this time,'" Figueroa told the Tampa Bay Times. "Especially me, having to go through the numerous years of minor-league baseball. I just take it as paying a little dues."
In 70 games with the TinCaps in 2009, Figueroa hit .319 with 1 home run and 34 runs batted in. He is the 124th former Fort Wayne Wizard or TinCap to make the majors. Coincidentally, Figueroa is now a teammate of Fort Wayne native and 2008 Bishop Luers High School alum Kevin Kiermaier, who has also broken in with Tampa Bay this season.
2009 TinCaps Who Have Reached the Majors (MLB Debut / Current Team)
- RHP Mat Latos (July 19, 2009 - Padres / Cincinnati Reds disabled list)
- OF Blake Tekotte (May 5, 2011 - Padres / Triple-A Charlotte)
- RHP Anthony Bass (June 13, 2011 - Padres / Houston Astros disabled list)
- INF James Darnell (August 9, 2011 - Padres / Triple-A Durham disabled list)
- INF Andy Parrino (August 26, 2011 - Padres / Triple-A Sacramento River Cats)
- RHP Brad Brach (August 31, 2011 - Padres / Baltimore Orioles)
- C Ali Solis (September 26, 2012 - Padres / Triple-A Durham)
- RHP Erik Davis (June 2, 2013 - Washington Nationals / Nationals disabled list)
- OF Jaff Decker (June 20, 2013 - Padres / Triple-A Indianapolis)
- RHP Simon Castro (July 5, 2013 - Chicago White Sox / Colorado Rockies organization)
- LHP Colt Hynes (July 14, 2013 - Padres / Triple-A Albuquerque)
- INF Dean Anna (April 4, 2014 - New York Yankees / Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
- INF Vince Belnome (2014 - Tampa Bay Rays* / Triple-A Durham)
- OF Daniel Robertson (May 2, 2014 - Texas Rangers / Rangers)
- INF Cole Figueroa (May 16, 2014 - Tampa Bay Rays / Rays)
* Yet to have an official appearance
The team's manager, Doug Dascenzo, is currently the third base coach of the Atlanta Braves.