Lake Elsinore outfielder Reymond Fuentes
entered exclusive company at the 2009 Draft, becoming the sixth Puerto Rican player ever taken in the first round -- and the first since 2000 -- when the Boston Red Sox chose him 28th overall.
Fuentes brought that distinction with him to the San Diego Padres organization when he was traded with two other top Red Sox prospects and veteran Eric Patterson for All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Fuentes has lived up to expectations so far this season, hitting .310 as the Storm's leadoff man with five multi-hit games since April 29.
Fuentes admits to a brief adjustment period following the trade, having to say goodbye to everyone he knew in the Boston organization and introducing himself to the Padres' baseball family.
"It was a little hard because you have to meet all new staff, players and coaches," he said. "These guys are all great. It was a little sad, because I don't get to see all my friends from Boston."
Fuentes also has to adapt to a different philosophy with his new team. He said Boston focused on teaching him hitting, whereas the Padres focus on a little bit of everything.
He's working on his throwing strength and accuracy, his plate discipline and his mental toughness as individual goals. He's also addressing concerns about his power potential and size with a specialized conditioning program that includes weightlifting and good nutrition.
"The power will be there as long as you hit the ball and have a good swing," he said. "I hear a lot that I have to put on weight because I'm only 170. But that's the type of body I have. My first weapon is my legs and my speed. So I can't develop a lot of power and lose my speed."
Fuentes' speed is the best part of his game. He used his tall, lean frame to steal 42 bases last year with Class A Greenville. He had 87 strikeouts and 25 walks in 2010 while collecting 101 hits.
The 20-year-old admitted he was shocked when the Red Sox called his name in 2009, saying he felt pressure as the first Puerto Rican ever taken by Boston in the first round.
Fuentes is carrying on the legacy of Puerto Ricans in Major League Baseball. He's from Manatí, a town that has produced other prominent ballplayers such as Jose and Javier Valentin, Cincinnati prospect Neftali Soto and New York Mets slugger Carlos Beltran, who is Fuentes' cousin.
Not just big, but Giant: San Jose OF Gary Brown is hitting .357 to start the year and is tied for third in the league with 27 RBIs. He's also fourth in hits with 45. This week Brown cleaned up at the plate with 11 RBIs and four doubles, earning Player of the Week honors. He powered the Giants to a 17-7 win over Bakersfield with five hits and six RBIs. He's also had four steals in his last three days to give him a league-high 21 for the year.
On the rebound: High Desert LHP Nick Czyz was bombed in two April starts, allowing 13 runs and 19 hits in 6 1/3 innings. That makes his May 4 start all the more impressive. The lefty pitched six shutout innings and allowed one hit in a no-decision. The Mavericks bullpen let Czyz down, but Czyz won Pitcher of the Week for his gem.
Blazing hot at the plate: Bakersfield 3B Eric Campbell paces the league with 33 RBIs. He added four more this week and had a 12-game hitting streak snapped Tuesday. He tore up San Jose pitching over the weekend, going 5-for-10 with two doubles and four runs scored. Campbell is hitting an even .400 and is tied for second among Cal League hitters with seven home runs.