Formerly a top prospect for the Toronto Blue Jays, Balbino Fuenmayor never tapped the potential set out for him from the start. He started off his professional career batting .307/.360/.458 with the power/contact combination that made him the number-10 prospect in Toronto’s system. But during his time in Toronto’s minor-league system, he failed to evolve into the star he had seemed destined to be. After only twice hitting over .250 over the next four seasons and never moving higher than Single-A, the Blue Jays saw him not progressing and decided to release the star they had signed when he was 16 years old.
After being released and seeming like a bust, Fuenmayor went to the independent Can-Am League. He flourished playing in Quebec, winning the Player of the Year Award and drawing the eyes of major-league organizations once again.
The Kansas City Royals quickly jumped on him and brought him into their farm system. He was assigned to Double-A and proceeded to hit .354/.386/.591 with 15 home runs and 50 RBIs. He made the Futures team for the World Team and put up a batting practice display that was second to none. He singled hard in his first at-bat and the rest is history. Although he won Kansas City’s Double-A Player of the Year Award, he tore his ACL shortly after being promoted to Triple-A and missed the end of the 2015 season.
After completing a 29-week rehab that has brought him back to full health, Feunmayor was invited to spring training by the Royals. The problem Balbino faces, though, is being blocked on the major-league roster by Eric Hosmer at first base and Kendrys Morales at designated hitter, so the odds of him cracking the roster are slim. Barring any injuries, Fuenmayor will start the season back in Triple-A and hopefully rake enough to make the big-league roster.
“The Great Balbino,” as he is affectionally called by fans and teammates, needs to blow Triple-A out of the water to get the opportunity to occasionally spell Morales or Hosmer at their respective positions and succeed at the big-league level. Fuenmayor has been excellent since coming to the Royals’ system and deserves a shot to crack the roster, if not right out of spring training, then during the year. It is time for MLB announcers to start saying, “Now batting, first baseman, Balbino Fuenmayor.” It is time to let the former top prospect get an opportunity, and my bet is on him excelling. Hitting .300 in the minors is no easy thing to do, and with his power and production, he would be an asset for any team and would make the Royals even better.
Just give him an opportunity.