Rockies prospect Josh Fuentes making a name for himself

Following the family name into the baseball business has treated players differently over the years. Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar and Eduardo Pérez grew up around the diamond with fathers playing in the big leagues.

Pedro Martínez followed his successful older brother Ramón onto the Dodgers’ pitching staff early in his career and then went on to a Hall of Fame career. Ozzie Canseco, on the other hand, struggled to live up to being the brother of a Most Valuable Player.

Josh Fuentes, who also has impressive bloodlines, didn’t plan on having a Colorado Rockies scout watching him hit for all of perhaps 10 minutes while home in California for a few days four years ago. But when your first cousin is Nolan Arenado, the perennial All-Star, scouts can be persuaded.

The scouting trip happened in no small part because it was the same man who found Arenado for the Rockies. Considering Fuentes wasn’t selected in the draft after playing at NAIA Missouri Baptist University, he also didn’t expect that the workout would lead to another opportunity with a major-league organization.

Four years later, the Orange County, Calif. native put on a Rockies jersey every day at the Arizona Fall League. He is on the doorstep of the major leagues.

Fuentes’ story is the stuff baseball dreams are made of.

The brief scouting trip was the break Fuentes needed. He has ridden it all the way to minor-league success, an invitation to spend the fall playing with and against the top prospects across Major League Baseball, and, potentially, an eventual invite to major-league spring training.

“Just to be on the same field as these guys is awesome, but at the same time you’re not bowing down to them. You’re saying you’re on the same field as them, and let’s play ball.”

Fuentes had fun at the Arizona Fall League. He played as if he had nothing to lose. His offensive numbers this fall show it. He hit .301 with three home runs and four doubles in 21 games at the Arizona Fall League.

The supportive teammate with the Salt River Rafters used his hands to make a paddling gesture to celebrate a hit from the dugout during an AFL game.

Fuentes has a presence in the Salt River clubhouse.

At 25 and having played more games at Class AAA than anyone on his team, he had instant credibility with teammates. He has also played winter ball in Mexico. He could have gone to the Dominican Republic this year if he had not been invited to the AFL.

He has a frame of reference for how the game is viewed and played in Latin America.

“They come to me sometimes and ask ‘What’s Triple-A like?’” Fuentes said of his younger teammates. “It’s awesome. These guys want to learn. They want to get better.”

After signing he began working his way up the Rockies’ minor-league system in 2014. He’d heard the comments from folks saying he was in pro baseball only because of his cousin, but those went away when things began to click and his confidence grew.

At Class AA Hartford in 2017, Fuentes hit .307 with 15 home runs, 28 doubles and 72 RBI.

He spent this season at Class AAA Albuquerque, where he hit .327 in 135 games, totaling 180 hits on his way to being named the Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t get a September call to the contending Rockies.

“It’s kind of hard not to think about that stuff,” Fuentes said. “It’s tough seeing guys you played against. You’re watching them on TV in September and you’re at the house. That hurt a little bit. Nothing against the Rockies, they had a decision to make and you’ve just got to accept it.“They had their guys, and that’s OK. Eventually my time will come and I’ve just got to wait for that and produce when it comes.”

“They had their guys, and that’s OK. Eventually my time will come and I’ve just got to wait for that and produce when it comes.”

Fuentes is confident he can play at the highest level. An invitation to spring training seems likely early next year.

“I know I can play and be an everyday guy in the big leagues, whether that’s with the Rockies or someone else,” he said. “I would hope to get a spring training invite. I think I’ve earned it.”

Playing the same position as Arenado, Fuentes accepts that a move to a different position might have to happen if he remains with the Rockies. Colorado has a solid farm system loaded with quality prospects. Fuentes has shown he belongs in that group.

Being undrafted and not on many top prospects lists has only further motivated him to succeed.

Fuentes admits having “a chip” on his shoulder in a healthy way.

“You really get to come out here and show what you have, see if you can match up and see if you can maybe play in the big leagues,” Fuentes said. “It’s huge for me and a lot of guys who have been overlooked to come here and play well, and I’m just glad I got an opportunity to do so.”

Arenado was in Arizona during AFL play to watch Fuentes play, continuing to give hitting pointers.

“After my second at-bat (against Surprise), I flew out and I look into the stands and he’s telling me to get on top of the ball, Fuentes said with a laugh. “What I love about him is he’s real with me. He’ll tell me ‘This is what you need to do, if you don’t do it, you won’t play or this will happen.’… That’s all you can ask for, is someone to support you.”

Featured Image: Bobby Stevens /