If blood lines mean anything, the Red Sox may have hit a home run when they made center fielder Reymond Fuentes their first-round pick (28th overall).
The 18-year-old Fuentes is a first cousin of New York Mets’ All-Star center fielder Carlos Beltran – who also graduated from the same high school (Fernando Callejo in Manati, Puerto Rico) as Fuentes.
Fuentes, a high school sprint champion, was rated as the third-fastest runner among draft-eligible high school players. He’s been clocked in 6.2 seconds for the 60-yard dash.
Not surprisingly, Fuentes admits he models his game after his star cousin.
“I consider myself very similar to Carlos because when he’s playing, he just plays the game and nothing else,” he said. “When I play, I get very focused on what I do. I don’t pay any mind to anything outside the game.”
In only 13 high school games last season, Fuentes hit .424 with three home runs, 14 RBI, 12 walks and nine stolen bases.
Fuentes received a $1.134 million signing bonus and was assigned to Boston’s team in the Gulf Coast Rookie League.
In 40 games, he hit .290 with one home run, 14 RBI and nine stolen bases.
Fuentes is rated as a line-drive hitter who has good plate coverage and extremely quick bat speed.
At 6-1, 165 pounds, he’s not a home run hitter but could add the long ball to his arsenal if he increases his muscle mass and strength.
His range in center field is above average but he has a below-average arm.
Fuentes, who bats and throws left, is considered by Baseball America as “an electric, game-changing-player whose contact-oriented approach and superior speed make him an ideal leadoff hitter.”
Fuentes popped up on Boston’s radar screen two years ago when he caught the attention of Edgar Perez, the Red Sox’ scout who covers Puerto Rico.
Based on Perez’s recommendation, director of amateur scouting Jason McLeod made several trips to Puerto Rico while general manager Theo Epstein saw him this past spring.
Depending on who you talk to, inside and outside of the Boston organization, Fuentes also is compared with players like Johnny Damon and Alfonso Soriano.
Even though Boston already has a center field star-in-the-making in Jacoby Ellsbury, the Red Sox utilized the formula so often used by New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and drafted the “BPA” – the best player available.
The Red Sox feel that a player with Fuentes’ overall athletic ability is capable of playing all three outfield positions, which is noteworthy considering other highly-rated outfield prospects in Boston’s farm system, like Josh Reddick and Ryan Westmoreland.
“He’s really athletic,” said McLeod. “I think that’s the first thing you notice when you see him. He’s kind of a lean, wiry-bodied kid right now. But first and foremost, speed is going to be part of his game. He’s a plus-runner.
“We really think he has an opportunity to be that leadoff-type player that can give us very good defense in center field (if that’s where Fuentes winds up playing) and, hopefully, be disruptive on the bases as well.”