Two Go To MLB Draft
Rhode Island second baseman Chris Hess ’18 and catcher Martin Figueroa ’17 both heard their names called on day three of the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft in June. Hess was selected in the 17th round (512th overall) by the New York Yankees, while Figueroa went to the Astros in the 32nd round (961st overall). It was the sixth consecutive year Rhode Island has had at least one player drafted.
After signing a contract with the Yankees, Hess was assigned to the organization’s Single A Short Season team in Staten Island. However, after just four games there, the North Kingstown, R.I., native was promoted to the full-season Single A Charleston RiverDogs, where he has been an everyday starter for most of the summer.
Hess was named 2017 NCBWA District I Player of the Year, as well as NEIBA Division I Player of the Year, after hitting .347 (77-for-222) this season. He collected 22 doubles, three triples and eight homers while stealing 12 bases, scoring 44 runs and driving in 48. A three-time Atlantic 10 All-Conference player and two-time ABCA/Rawlings All-Northeast Region pick, he ended the season on a tear, hitting .500 (5-10) with three home runs and two doubles at the 2017 A-10 Championship. For his performance, he was named to the All-Championship team. After just three full seasons with the Rams, Hess owns URI’s career triples record (19), ranks second all-time in doubles (46) and is third in extra-base hits (82).
Figueroa served as a utility player for the Rams, playing infield, outfield and designated hitter before taking over as URI’s everyday catcher in 2017. He battled through injuries during his senior year, appearing in 45 games and hitting .248 with 39 hits, 24 walks, 27 runs scored, 12 doubles, two home runs and 10 stolen bases. Behind the dish, he turned in a perfect fielding percentage on 247 total chances (226 putouts/21 assists).
The Elizabeth, N.J., athlete was named to the 2015 Atlantic 10 All-Conference Team as well as the 2016 A-10 All-Championship team, in addition to earning Most Outstanding Player accolades at last year’s conference championship. Figueroa finished his collegiate career ranked fifth in program history in career doubles (49) and seventh in career extra-base hits (66). He was assigned by Houston to the Rookie League Greeneville Astros as a reserve catcher.
This marks the first time since 2009 Rhode Island has had multiple draft picks in the same year. In 2009, Eric Smith (2nd round, Arizona Diamond-backs), Nick Greenwood (14th round, San Diego Padres), Dan Rhault (26th round, Tampa Bay Rays) and Luke Demko (29th round, San Francisco Giants) were all selected. Hess joins Al Alvarez ’58 as the second Ram in the Yankees organization, while Figueroa follows Steve McCumiskey ’90 at the Astros.