Blood is Thick

Photo Credit: Andy Grosh |

By Rich Daniels

Picture two men doing the same thing for a living, wearing the same colors doing it. 

The first is a household name, a second-round pick that has bloomed beyond the fruition anyone foresaw for him. The second, unwanted in the draft and unnoticed by 99% of the game’s fandom. Both are about the same size, 6’2”-210 pounds. They are both from the same area in California and were born just 22 months apart. They are both under contract for the same organization and even play the same position. And…they’re cousins.

Nolan Arenado is the third baseman every baseball fan wants on their team, but only Rockies fans can enjoy every night. 

His 120 home runs and 423 RBI’s over the past three seasons are staggering and he is on pace for what could be his best season yet this year. His leather-work is as prodigious as his offensive numbers as his five consecutive National League Gold Glove Awards will attest - making him unrivaled at his position. 

Arenado has also assumed the mantle of leadership in the clubhouse and on the field for the Rockies making him as close to an indispensable player as there is in the major leagues. 

Obviously, Arenado is the first man we’re talking about.
Josh Fuentes is not a name that trips through the lips of many baseball fans outside Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

The strapping third baseman went undrafted after two years at tiny Saddleback College. Then he went undrafted after two more years at Missouri Baptist University and thought his dream of being a major leaguer might be over. 

Fuentes’ superior play had gone unnoticed by scouts since he had played in out-of-the-way places. But there was an individual in professional baseball that knew how good Fuentes was and made his opinion known: his cousin Nolan.

Fuentes' Minor League Career

Arenado recommended his cousin as a viable player to consider and the Rockies organization listened. By all indications, they are glad they did. 

It took Fuentes about 500 at-bats in A-ball in the 2014 and 2015 seasons to adjust to the professional ranks then, he erupted. 

In Single-A he produced 13 HR, 64 RBI’s, and a .871 OPS in 2016. In Double-A Hartford he hit 15 HR, 72 RBI’s and had a .869 OPS in 2017. And this season in Triple-A Fuentes has nine HR, 63 RBI’s, and a .878 OPS. Those 63 RBI’s are second in the Pacific Coast league and are a major reason why Fuentes is a Triple-A All-Star. Also, his play at third base has been stellar compelling observers to wonder out loud about what breakfast cereal that family prefers. 

The rub in this situation is that both are excellent third basemen. 

Fuentes’ defensive performance, just four errors in 77 games so far in 2018, would unnerve just about any established major league third baseman ahead of him. But the third baseman ahead of Fuentes is the best there is in the game, bar none. But Arenado has not flinched in his support, both private and public, for his cousin regardless of the situation. Arenado wants to win in Denver and the passion he displays on the field is consistent with his determination off the field. He will do whatever it takes to build the Rockies into a perennial winner and has made it clear that he believes his cousin is part of that winning formula for the future. 

The two are in frequent contact via text and social media and support each other without question. The Rockies seem to be headed in that direction of thinking as well. They’ve tried Fuentes at first base for a few games to see how he adjusts in spite of having two other highly touted candidates for playing time there in Ryan McMahon and Jordan Patterson

The Rockies see themselves as a contender in the NL West and beyond and they’re getting there with a lot of younger players. 

Another of those young names you might see soon is that of Josh Fuentes who not only represents the possibility of another Rockies superstar emerging but also could solidify a dominant bloodline playing on the same club. Two players, blood relatives, playing long-term for the same team. That would be a very rare situation indeed.  

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