Rockies-Cards series offers Arenado sublots and a local college milestone

Sports

Colorado Rockies’ Nolan Arenado (28) is greeted by Josh Fuentes (8) after scoring on a base hit by Matt Kemp during the first inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

ST. LOUIS- This weekend’s series between the Colorado Rockies and the Cardinals offers a plethora of subplots. And we’re not just talking about Matt Adams’ return to Busch Stadium after being called up from Colorado’s Alternate Site last month.

It will be the first time Nolan Arenado faces the team that traded him in the offseason to St. Louis in a blockbuster deal widely panned around the game for the lack of an established return for Colorado, along with the amount of money the Rockies sent eastbound on I-70.

The scheduled starting pitcher Friday for the Rockies is the only Major Leaguer the team acquired in the deal, lefty Austin Gomber.

The series will also offer Arenado something of a family reunion outside of his former baseball organization. His cousin, Josh Fuentes, has seen the most action at third base for Colorado as the Rockies try to replace a franchise cornerstone.

Fuentes also has ties to the St. Louis area, having played at Missouri Baptist University. He hit .365 with 47 RBI for the NAIA program in 2014 and signed with Colorado as an undrafted free agent after the 2014 season. His college head coach, Eddie Uschold told FOX2 Fuentes might have been given the pen he signed his contract with, but didn’t get much else.

“Josh has just put the time in and I think a lot of that comes from his family and from his background from being around Nolan and he just continues to work and and work and work and work, and that’s what got him there,” Uschold said. “He’s talented, but he’s put the time in so I saw that work ethic when he was here.”

Fuentes is the first Missouri Baptist product to reach the majors, having come up in late 2019. Since the Rockies didn’t play the Cardinals in last year’s truncated season, this will be his first time playing in the big leagues in St. Louis.

Fuentes has struggled at the plate in the first month of 2021, hitting .202 with 22 strikeouts in 84 at-bats, but Uschold is confident that if the opportunities keep on coming, his former pupil will be able to take advantage, even if he could be pressing a little, trying to make a statement to an organization in turmoil and rebuilding.

“Josh is the kind of guy willing to do whatever, he just wants to play, but he really wants the third base spot. All teh stuff that’s going on in Colorado, I think he’s mentally strong enough,” Uschold said.

“I’ve had guys that were drafted a lot higher, I’ve had guys that got bigger bonuses and they didn’t get close to where he’s at.”

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