The six foot one, right hander went to Abraham Lincoln High School in Coney Island. The school has had some famous alumni including; the Mets Lee Mazzilli. Other notable names are Mel Brooks, Harvey Kietel, Lou Gossett Jr., John Forsythe, broadcaster Marv Albert, author Arthur Miller, singers Neil Sadaka & Neil Diamond, drummer Buddy Rich, & New York Knick Stephan Marbury.
Figueroa then attended Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts where he earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies while pitching on the baseball team. He was drafted by the hometown New York Mets in the 30th round of the 1995 draft, the 833rd pick overall.
Figueroa was 7-3 with the Kingsport Mets in the Rookie league in 1995, then 14-7 with a 2.04 ERA, at A ball with Capitol City in 1996. By 1998 he was traded off to the Arizona Diamondbacks along with Bernard Gilkey for Jorge Fabergas.
Nellie pitched for Arizona (2000) the Philadelphia Phillies (2001), Milwaukee Brewers (2002) & Pittsburgh Pirates (2003-2004) going a combined 7-17 in 74 games overall as a both a starter & middle reliever.
Nellie had surgery for a torn rotators cuff, & then spent three seasons in the minor leagues. He would pitch briefly in China & for Puerto Rico in three World Baseball Classics.
In 2008 he got back to the big leagues, getting signed by the New York Mets. He was a long shot to make the team, but a solid Spring got him a spot on the staff going North.
On April 2nd, he made his Mets debut pitching a scoreless 7th inning in Florida in a 13-0 romp over the Marlins. He appeared in two games in relief in the first week of the season.
On April 11, 2008 he was called to help out an ailing staff making a start against the Milwaukee Brewers. His family was on hand at Shea Stadium watching from Billy Wagner’s private box as he went six innings allowing only two hits, and striking out six while earning the win.
He earned his second victory against the Braves at the end of April, allowing three runs while pitching into the 6th inning.
In May he allowed nine earned runs over ten innings in two games, taking the losses in both of them getting designated for assignment on May 13th. He was brought back to the Mets bullpen in September finishing the year at 3-3 with a 4.57 ERA appearing in 16 games.
He signed a minor league contract for 2009 and got another chance to start at the big league level, for the Mets in April taking a loss.
He returned in August going 1-2 and then began September with five straight losing decisions. But on the last day of the season, he pitched the best game of his career in what turned out to be his Mets outing. He threw a four hit shutout against the Houston Astros at Citi Field in front of 38,000 fans, striking out seven batters. He finished the year at 3-8 with a 4.09 ERA, 59 strike outs in 70 innings in 16 games pitched.
In 2010 he pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies & Houston Astros earning a career high seven wins (7-4) with a 3.29 ERA.
In 2011 he began the year on the Houston staff going 0-3 in eight games getting sent down to AAA Oklahoma in early May. He finished up 6-7 there & pitched at AAA Scranton in 2012 at age 37 .