The 27-year-old Fuentes’ career has followed the prototypical journeyman path, but he did not shy away from how the DFA made him feel.
“I don’t think any player will take that in a good way,” Fuentes said. “I don’t have to use any words to describe how I felt. It just motivated me to keep on going, to prove that I can play at this level.”
This drive to prove himself comes from Fuentes’ belief in always playing with a purpose.
“I did work a lot in the offseason, like every year, and just coming in with a mindset of making a team, if I am or not. Just come in with the same mindset and good things will happen. If you come into the field just going through the motions nothing is going to work.”
He has hit safely in his last eight games, going 9-for-16 (.533) with two home runs, six RBIs, and seven runs scored. In 16 cactus league games, he is hitting .419 with a team leading 10 RBIs.
“It’s been a great spring for Reymond,” Lovullo said. “He had a tough go of it, taken off the roster, but we were glad he fell back into this organization. Players like that just don’t go on trees.”
A Well Traveled Journeyman
Since being drafted in 2009 by the Boston Red Sox, Fuentes has spent time at various levels in the Sox, San Diego Padres, Kansas City Royals, and the D-Backs farm systems over nine seasons in professional baseball. In those nine seasons, Fuentes has logged a total of 225 plate appearances in the majors, so he has spent his fair share of long days and nights at minor league ballparks trying to make ends meet.
The starting pay for minor league players is about $1,100 per month, according to Mother Jones. Even Triple-A players start out only making about $2,140 per month and that is only during the season, which for some players is two or three months. When minor league players make it to the big leagues, they make the minimum salary, which is only $545,000 for the 2018 season.
Fuentes said trying to keep your spot on the big-league roster, especially when making a countless number of trips up and down from the minor leagues, is “pretty challenging.”
“You’ve got to be mentally prepared for it. Once you give up in your head, your body is going to shut down. I think the main thing is to keep your head up and keep on going no matter what.”
A Valuable Piece of the Puzzle
Last season, Fuentes set a career high with 145 plate appearances, hitting .235 with with three home runs and four stolen bases in 64 games (29 starts). He played all three outfield spots and was especially valuable to the D-Backs in June, hitting .353 in 21 games (12 starts). Fuentes performed well as a pinch hitter, hitting .278 with six of his nine RBIs.
Shortstop Ketel Marte said Fuentes is a “good teammate.”
“He’s got a lot of talent. We need him here, he can play really good defense and we are going to need him to pinch hit.”
D-Backs manager Torey Lovullo has known Fuentes since he was an 18-year-old in the Red Sox system and is happy to seem him playing so well.
“He was loaded with potential and we are watching that play out and he deserves all the credit,” Lovullo said. “He has taken this challenge that has been placed before him and made the most of every situation and has been outstanding.”
Stay tuned for a look at the competition for the final outfield spots and how Fuentes potentially fits in.