I finally created a Twitter account earlier this month, if you’re into that sort of thing.
The 40-man roster crunch forced the Padres to make a decision last week: keep Reymond Fuentes on the 40-man roster and clear room by moving someone else
allow him to be exposed (and likely taken) in the Rule 5 draft;* or trade him. The Padres chose option two, dealing the left-handed slap-hitting speedster to the Kansas City Royals for 23-year-old lefty reliever Kyle Bartsch. Fuentes’ departure leaves Casey Kelly as the last remaining piece of the late-2010 Adrian Gonzalez-to-Boston deal still in San Diego.
*Clarification: Fuentes was on the Padres 40-man at the time of the trade. The question boiled down to whether the Padres should have kept him on the 40-man or dealt him to clear room for someone else. The premise of the article remains the same. Thanks to reader Ryan Stall for the heads up.
When he came over from Boston, Fuentes was clearly the third piece in the deal that included Kelly and Anthony Rizzo, but also hardly a throw-in. Taken in the first round of the 2009 draft out of Puerto Rico, his appeal came in the form of unrefined tools. After the 2009 season, Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus ranked Fuentes as the 10th-best prospect in Boston’s system, filling his scouting report with positive traits: explosive, fantastic bat speed, uses all fields, 70 running speed, and a Perfect World Projection as a .300 hitter with game-changing speed.
Fuentes’ skills took time to develop, as he hit just .270/.328/.377 in his first full season in Boston’s organization as a 19-year-old in Single-A. Upon moving into the Padres system, Fuentes didn’t build on the scouting pedigree, hitting just .275/.342/.369 with 44 walks and 117 strikeout in 573 plate appearances in the offense-happy Cal League. Fuentes’ development spiraled sharply downward in 2012, when he barely cracked a .600 OPS in his first shot at Double-A San Antonio. There were still positives signs: the base running and defense remained solid, for one, and his age (21 at the time) offered hope for a turnaround.
That turnaround came in a second tour of Double-A, where Fuentes finally realized how to convert baseball tools into baseball performance, slashing .316/.396/.441 while markedly improving his strikeout rate. He capped off 2013 with a 1.000-plus OPS in Triple-A Tucson, though that came in just 67 plate appearances. Last year was a mixed bag: Fuentes started at Triple-A El Paso, but a punch-less sub-Mendoza Line batting average earned him a demotion to Double-A. Back in San Antonio, Fuentes picked up right where he left off the previous year, hitting .324/.386/.453 in 194 plate appearances. He got the call back up to Triple-A in July and used a nine-game hitting streak to boost his Triple-A batting average to .277, at one point, before an injury in late July cut his season short.