Josh Fuentes (a.k.a Nolan Arenado’s cousin, in case you forgot) has quite the journey to the major leagues. The 27-year-old third baseman went undrafted before being signed by the Rockies in 2014. Since then, he’s been a little all over the map. Fuentes didn’t really hit his stride until 2017 when he was in Double-A Hartford. In 2018, he really broke out — slashing .327/.354/.517 with 14 home runs in Triple-A Albuquerque. Those stats were enough to earn him Pacific Coast League honors that included: mid- and post-season all star berths, PCL Rookie of the Year, PCL Most Valuable Player, and a Rockies organizational all-star. Fuentes then went to the Arizona Fall League and finished in the top five in most batting stats. 2019 brought Fuentes back to earth, between injuries and just a different season. He started to come on at the end of the year with the big league club, though, going 10-for-37 with three big league home runs to end the year. He appears to be carrying that momentum into this spring so far, slashing .400/.381/.400 in ten Cactus League games. Even Nolan is impressed!
2020 will be a “prove it” year for Fuentes, who has two options left. He’s caught the eye of Bud Black, but the new 26-man roster rule might make the decision more difficult. Will Fuentes continue performing at this high level and make the roster as a right-handed bat off the bench? Or will he prove to be a Quad-A player? Only time will tell.
Other young talent is impressing in Rockies camp. Nolan Arenado raved about guys like RHP Tyler Kinley, Josh Fuentes, and Garrett Hampson. Jon Gray has glowing things to say about Antonio Senzatela, who has lost 15 pounds and gained control of his changeup. Trevor Story had nothing but good things to say about Alan Trejo, who could be in the mix for the crowded infield soon. Kyle Freeland was glad that Chris Owings not playing for the Diamondbacks anymore, and Ian Desmond mentioned Brian Mundell as a guy he’s keeping an eye on. It’s really great hearing the veterans speak so highly of the new guys, particularly guys like Trejo who are in their first major league camp. Again, the 26-man roster makes the decisions more challenging, but I’ll be curious to see how many, if any, of these players make the roster either out of camp or make an appearance later in the year.
On the down side, the Rockies minor league system is not doing so well in the eyes of national pundits. Sam Dykstra of MiLB.com ranked the Rockies farm system as the second-worst in baseball, ahead of only the Milwaukee Brewers. Second-worst! Some of the big reasons for that include other teams’ (namely the Cubs and Red Sox) systems getting better and underperformance from top prospects such as Brendan Rodgers and Ryan Castellani (due to injury in both regards), Unfortunately, with the financial limitations that the team has, it doesn’t look like it can rely too much on its farm system to make any splashy trades anytime soon.