When we broke down the Padres’ outfield in this space just two weeks ago, it was in response to a recent callup — Jaff Decker — and yet we found that that the outfield was mostly set in the present and the future. And so Jaff Decker hasn’t played like a regular (31 plate appearances over 11 team games), and hasn’t made much of an impact. There are many reasons to be a little bit more optimistic about this week’s callup.
Some of Reymond Fuentes‘ fortune is based on other’s misfortune. For example, Cameron Maybin has now been pulled from his rehab twice for pain in his knee. He may not return this year, and if surgery is involved, there might even be longer-term considerations. The other situation that Fuentes is benefiting from is less ‘misfortune’ and more ‘miscasting’ — Alexi Amarista doesn’t really look like a center fielder at five-foot-nine-or-so, and so far the numbers (in fewer than 500 innings) agree that he doesn’t really play like a center fielder either. Will Venable told me last week that he thinks he can play everywhere in the outfield, and he likes the opportunity to play, but he doesn’t see himself as a center fielder.
So maybe the Padres currently lack a center fielder.
Cue Fuentes. Full disclosure, I haven’t seen him play. So I asked a few people who have.
In a-ball, he was a lean guy who could really run with some bat speed. He was undisciplined at the plate, like most a-ballers, and would chase out of the zone.
The numbers agreed. Fuentes had below-average strikeout and walk rates for that league, but stole 40+ bags at a good success rate. He was also a teenager that would probably stick in center and had some projectability. That’s how he got involved in the Adrian Gonzalez haul. In the San Diego system, Fuentes continued to develop and improved in several key areas.
Jeff Moore wrote him up early this season on MLBProspectWatch:
His walk rates have improved in each of his three full seasons, so that’s a good sign that he’s improving his approach at the plate, and he’s never going to hit for much power, so no one’s too worried about that. But Fuentes must prove that he can consistently get on base if he’s ever going to get regular playing time in the majors.
With most of the minor league season in the books, Fuentes is now showing the best walk (14.9%) and strikeout (14.9%) rates of his career, allbeit in 67 plate appearances in Triple-A. That’s okay, his second-best walk (10.2%) and third-best strikeout rate (17.6%) came in 403 Double-A appearances this year. And it’s good news that the improved rates made the jump with him into Triple-A, anyway.
Fuentes won’t hit many homers. And at 22, he may struggle in the big leagues in his first attempt. But he has survived a jump before, and if he can strike out less often than the league, he looks like he’ll walk more often than most. He should be owned in all deep dynasties now that he’s improved his discipline, in any case. But the walks will also give him more chances to steal bases, right now. In mixed redraft leagues, he might even make a good streamer when the Padres face the Giants, given this research about Buster Posey‘s ability to throw out base stealers.