The 25-year-old Fuentes has clawed up the minor league ladder, going from non-drafted free agent out of Missouri Baptist to the brink of the big leagues. He’s in the Fall League for some last-minute polishing, coming off his best season as a professional at Triple-A (.327/.354/.517).
Fuentes looks the part of a pro corner player, a physical 6-foot-2 and 215-pound frame strong enough to hit for power but able to stay at 3B. He hits from a deep crouch with a big leg-kick trigger to start the swing, getting all his lower-half into a quick stroke that has power to the pullside. He yanks most of his contact, and while it isn’t a pretty swing, Fuentes has solid bat control and finds a way to make it work. For a player that looks strong enough to hit for power, his peripherals (low walk/low strikeout guy) don’t fit the standard mold. His game approach is oriented more towards making contact than driving the ball, looking to put it in play and rely on feel for the barrel. He could live to be more patient, but I saw plenty of awareness at the plate and an understanding how to get to his pitch.
Defensively, Fuentes moved between the infield corners in my week-long look watching Salt River. He looked fine at the hot corner, showing soft hands and the footwork to make routine plays. There’s a chance he’s a 55-grade defender at first base, though the overall versatility should help a R/R profile without tons of game power get into the lineup.
Fuentes is Jonah Arenado’s cousin, and yeah, he’s in the Rockies system. That alone doesn’t get a guy to the cusp of the big leagues, and Josh Fuentes is no charity case. He has worked himself into the player he is today, showing significant improvement each of the last two years I’ve seen him. He’s ready to hit in the big leagues, safely profiling as a useful role player who can move between corner positions. If he winds up hitting enough to be an everyday third baseman someday, don’t be surprised: Fuentes is the type of guy that has been proving people wrong for a long time.