Balbino Fuenmayor

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Balbino Rafael Fuenmayor Piña

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Biographical Information[edit]

Balbino Fuenmayor has played in the US, Venezuela, Canada and Mexico, peaking at AAA.

Fuenmayor was signed by Toronto Blue Jays scout Rafael Moncada in August 2006. [1] Unlike many Latin signees, he went straight to the US, playing for the GCL Blue Jays in 2007 and hitting .174/.244/.242 while fielding .874 at third base. He led the Gulf Coast League with 68 strikeouts. Returning to the same club in 2008, he was much better - .307/.360/.458 at the plate, .937 at 3B. He led GCL third basemen in putouts (34) and assists (115) and tied Jefry Marte and Calvin Culver for 5th in doubles (14). [2]

Playing for the 2009 Lansing Lugnuts, he hit .263/.279/.384 with 9 walks to 119 strikeouts in 113 games. He made his debut in the Venezuelan Winter League, playing one game for the Navegantes del Magallanes and hitting .256/.289/.372 for the Caribes de Anzoátegui despite strikeouts in 21 of 43 at-bats. In 2010, he was back with Lansing, producing at a .220/.266/.273 clip with 123 K in 346 AB and fielding .990 at 1B. That winter, he backed up Joe Koshansky at 1B and Niuman Romero at 3B for the Caribes, hitting .268/.317/.339.

The Valencia native split the summer of 2011 between Lansing (.287/.346/.362 in 29 G) and the Vancouver Canadians (.234/.288/.368 in 61 G). While it was his fifth pro season, he was still younger than league average in age. He hit .190/.320/.476 that winter in limited time for Anzoátegui. In 2012, he had a good season for the Canadians, batting .282/.325/.471 with 20 doubles, 9 homers and 52 RBI in 67 games. He was 5th in the Northwest League in slugging (between Stephen Bruno and Joseph Rapp), 2nd in doubles (one behind Taylor Ard), tied Marcus Littlewood for 7th in home runs and tied Patrick Kivlehan for 2nd in RBI (6 behind Ard). Ard was picked as the All-Star at 1B.

In the following winter, he hit .333/.412/.400 as a bench player for the Caribes. He started 2013 slowly with Lansing (.208/.287/.396 in 26 G) and was let go by Toronto. He caught on first with the Frontier Greys (.322/.370/.554, 11 HR in 45 G) and later the Laredo Lemurs (.262/.300/.431 in 18 G) that year before being picked up by Les Capitales de Québec for the playoff run. [3] For the Caribes, he batted .289/.325/.500 in 40 plate appearances.

Back with Les Capitales for a full season in 2014, he blossomed. Starting the year hitting 8th, he was batting cleanup in a week. He hit .347/.383/.610 with 30 doubles, 23 home runs and 99 RBI in 95 games while splitting time between 3B and 1B. He finished second to Sébastien Boucher in average (.019 shy), second to Joe Dunigan in dingers (four back), easily led in RBI (27 ahead of runner-up Ryan Stovall), tied Boucher for 3rd in runs (67), led in doubles (3 ahead of Jerod Edmondson), led with 9 sacrifice flies, tied Asif Shah for 3rd in OBP, led in slugging (.085 ahead of Stovall) and led in OPS (23 ahead of Boucher). [4] He set a franchise record for hits. [5] He was named the league's All-Star third baseman and MVP. [6] He also took home the Baseball America Independent League Player of the Year award, the second Les Capitales player so honored (9 years after Eddie Lantigua had done it). [7]

His strong play continued into the winter. His batting line for the 2014-2015 Caribes read .315/.353/.587 and he had 10 homers and 38 RBI in 42 games. Despite not finishing among the qualifiers for the batting title, he was second in home runs (5 behind Carlos Rivero) and tied Félix Pérez for 5th in RBI. He hit .367/.483/.796 with 5 homers and 13 RBI in 14 semifinals games and .250/.308/.583 with another homer in 3 games in the finals as the team won it all. [8] In the 2015 Caribbean Series, he hit .368/.429/.579. His double off Carlos Pimentel scored Alexi Amarista with the winning run against the Dominicans and he scored the winning run against Mexico. He was 5th in the Series in slugging and 4th in OPS (between Héctor Gómez and Willy García). [9] He was the only player for Venezuela to make the Series All-Star team, picked at 1B. [10]

The Kansas City Royals were impressed and signed him in October 2014, in the middle of his Venezuelan season. [11] He tore up the minor leagues - .354/.386/.591, 15 HR in 73 G for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, .377/.371/.580, 15 RBI in 16 games in his AAA debut for the Omaha Storm Chasers. He tore his ACL in late July and missed the end of the season or he may have made the majors. Had he qualified, he would have led the Texas League in average and slugging. He tied Jorge Bonifacio for 3rd in the Royals chain with 17 homers and his 66 RBI were 4th (between Wander Franco and Bonifacio), pretty good for a guy who missed 5 weeks of the year. Unusual for a player who had been let go two years prior and spent time in the independent leagues, he even played in the Futures Game. Starting at first base and hitting cleanup for the World, he went 1 for 2 before being replaced by Cheslor Cuthbert, his hit coming off Lucas Giolito. [12]

Fuenmayor returned to action in 2016, but Eric Hosmer was still playing regularly in the majors. While he put up solid numbers for Omaha (.291/.325/.405), it was not enough to get him a call to the big leagues. That winter, he was a big contributor for the Caribes - .342/.377/.564, 9 HR, 37 RBI in 38 G on offense, while fielding .997 at 1B. He tied René Reyes and Luis Jimenez for 5th in the league in dingers, was 7th in RBI (between Jose Martinez and Heiker Meneses) and would have ranked 3rd in slugging had he qualified (behind Jesus Aguilar and Breyvic Valera). [13]

A free agent again, he spent some of 2017 back with Les Capitales (.310/.396/.453 in 12 G) but was mostly on the other side of the US, with the Rojos del Águila de Veracruz in Mexico (.302/.357/.491, 16 HR). He missed the Mexican League top ten in home runs by one. With the 2017-2018 Caribes, he hit .341/.398/.526 with 18 doubles and 40 RBI in 53 games. He was 4th in the LVBP in average (between Jesús Montero and Jesús Valdez), led in doubles, tied for 7th in homers, tied Alberth Martinez for 6th in RBI, was second in total bases (111, 36 behind Valdez), ranked 5th in slugging (between Henry Urrutia and Reyes) and was 5th in OPS (between Jose Vargas and Montero). [14] He hit .262/.311/.405 in the semifinals and .180/.280/.318 in the finals. [15] He was 5 for 5 with a double, 2 homers and 5 RBI against the Águilas Cibaeñas‎ in the 2018 Caribbean Series and hit .375/.400/.708 with 7 RBI for the Series. He tied for 3rd in the Series with 9 hits, tied Rusney Castillo and Rafael Ortega for 2nd in homers (2), was second in RBI (one shy of Anthony García), was 5th in slugging (between Junior Lake and Willians Astudillo), was 8th in OPS (between Astudillo and Ortega) and was second with 17 total bases (8 shy of García). [16] He was named the All-Star first baseman for the Series for the 2nd time in four years. [17]

He played for the Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos in 2018. In the spring season, he hit .348/.392/.549 with 9 homers and 34 RBI in 48 games. He was even better in the autumn season (.372/.418/.553, 9 HR, 46 RBI in 56 G). He was 6th in average (between Leo Heras and Francisco Peguero), 4th in hits (84, between Everth Cabrera and Brian Hernandez), tied for 6th with 14 doubles, tied Hernandez for 7th in RBI and 10th in OPS.

Sources[edit]

  1. 2013 Blue Jays Media Guide, pg. 422
  2. 2009 Baseball Almanac, pg. 381
  3. 2015 Baseball Almanac, pg. 405
  4. Canadian-American League
  5. 2016 Royals Media Guide, pg. 171
  6. 2015 Baseball Almanac, pg. 413
  7. 2015 Baseball Almanac, pg. 405
  8. Pelotabinaria
  9. 2015 Caribbean Series
  10. Analitica
  11. 2016 Royals Media Guide, pg. 171
  12. 2016 Baseball Almanac, pg. 361; Kansas City Star
  13. 2016-2017 Venezuelan Winter League batting leaders
  14. 2017-2018 Venezuelan Winter League batting leaders
  15. Pelotabinaria
  16. 2018 Caribbean Series
  17. LVBP.com