Colorado Rockies: Josh Fuentes makes presence known in 2020
Until the last two weeks, Josh Fuentes’ biggest claim to fame to most Colorado Rockies fans was that he is a cousin of Rox All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado.
But Fuentes, who had only played in 24 contests with the Colorado Rockies encompassing two stints in his first Major League season in 2019, is quickly establishing a name for himself on his own merits by his play on the field.
In the Rox three-game road series against the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers that ended Sunday night, Fuentes had big hits in each of the last two games — both wins for Colorado — as the Rockies claimed their first series victory against the Dodgers since capturing a series at Coors Field in August 2018 as well as their first series win on the road against Los Angeles since late June-early July 2018.
In addition, by triumphing in two of three games, Colorado became the first team this season to take a series from the Dodgers.
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Fuentes helped make sure of the series victory. His pinch-hit, two-run double capped a three-run uprising in the ninth inning in the Rox 5-2 victory on Saturday night.
A day later, Fuentes slammed a second-inning two-run homer — his first of the year — for Colorado’s initial runs of the game in an eventual 7-6 Rockies victory.
Ironically, prior to his two-run blast Sunday night, his last Major League homer also came at Dodgers Stadium (on Sept. 21, 2019).
Entering action Monday, Fuentes was on a career-high eight-game hitting streak — batting .385 (10-for-26) with six runs batted in during that stretch — and has hit safely in all six of his starts at first base this year while hitting .333 (8-for-24) in those games.
For the season, the native of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., is hitting .370 (10-for-27) in 11 games with three doubles and an OPS of .993.
All this has occurred after Fuentes, the Pacific Coast League’s Rookie of the Year and league ’s Most Valuable Player in 2018, was recalled to the parent club from the alternate training site on Aug. 20.
He made his first Opening Day roster this season but was optioned to the alternate training site on Aug. 5.
Did Fuentes expect to make such significant contributions so quickly after having joined the Rockies?
"“To me, it’s everything,” he told Rox Pile on Monday afternoon.“It’s everything you work for, everything you do in the quarantines, in the offseason,” added Fuentes, who batted .218 (12-for-55) with three homers and seven RBI during his 24 games played for the Rox in 2019.“You work for these moments. You work so hard that you can trust yourself in these moments. I think that is the biggest thing. It’s not only being here but contributing and helping a team.“There’s definitely nothing better than coming into the dugout and having everyone pumped…and everyone is going crazy for you.To me, that’s what baseball is all about. That energy. That love for the game, and winning. Winning is fun, too. It’s everything, man. It’s what you work for.”"
Fuentes has made his contributions offensively while batting in the bottom third of Colorado’s batting order to help add some punch in that part of the lineup.
One teammate who has noted Fuentes’ solid play in the last two weeks is Matt Kemp.
"“Guys like Sammy (Hilliard) and Hampy (Garrett Hampson), Fuentes. Those guys have really stepped up and got some big hits,” Kemp said Sunday night after the veteran’s two-run eighth inning homer catapulted the Rox to a come-from-behind 7-6 victory against the Dodgers.“It’s definitely important for the bottom of the lineup to be able to do what they have been doing. We’ve got to continue to do that.”"
With the final third of the abbreviated 60-game regular season just beginning, Josh Fuentes could be play an integral role in the Rox late-season push for the playoffs.