Fuentes leads struggling Gauchos

Second baseman Josh Fuentes catches a pop fly during a game against Golden West on March 30. (Tameem Seraj)

Chris Cantwell/Special to the Lariat

Saddleback third baseman Josh Fuentes, 19, undecided, is putting up great numbers so far this season. He has a .342 batting average and 13 runs-batted-in.

“One word to describe my baseball career is passion. I play with so much heart and pure love for the game. I couldn’t think of doing anything else but playing ball,” Fuentes said.

Fuentes is from Mission Viejo, California but has lived in Rancho Santa Margarita for most of his life. Fuentes’ high school team was very successful his senior year.

“I started off slow my freshman and sophomore years at Trabuco Hills, but then I worked hard and hit every single day and became a good player. We won league my senior year,” Fuentes said.

Like most athletes, he learned to play his favorite sport at a very young age. Fuentes’ father and his cousin were his biggest teachers and role models.

His father Justo Fuentes introduced him to the game when he was six-years-old. He has six cousins, and they played almost every day whether it was wiffle ball in the backyard or bouncing balls off the garage.

“I was always around the game,” Fuentes said. His cousin Nolan Arenado plays for the double-A minor league affiliate for the Colorado Rockies.

“He taught me to play with fire and to want it more than anyone else on the field. That goes through my mind every time I step in between those lines,” Fuentes said.

Fuentes loves playing for the Gauchos and loves playing with his teammates and helping them win in any way he can. Coach Sommer McCartney would always contact him telling him to go to Saddleback, and he decided to play for the Gauchos.

“I love our team here at Saddleback. We have a solid group of guys who want to get better individually and as a team,” Fuentes said. “When I come to hit early, I always see guys strolling in to hit with me. We really gel.”

Fuentes’ favorite baseball team is the San Francisco Giants, and his favorite player is Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies.

“Troy plays with such fire and energy and that’s my game too. The way he plays defense inspires me,” Fuentes said. “My older brother loved the Dodgers and we were rivals, so naturally my team was the Giants.”

Fuentes’ goal is very similar to the majority of college athletes. His goal is to get drafted out of Saddleback or play at a four-year university.

“Getting an education is so important, and I would have no problem going that route, but if the opportunity of getting drafted arose, that would be a dream come true,” Fuentes said.

The Gauchos are currently 8-15 and are looking to improve themselves in every way possible. Fuentes believes that anything is attainable.

“Every goal I have is an achievable goal for me. Nothing is out of reach. Persistence and being focused on the task helps to achieve it. Nothing is ever going to be smooth sailing. When you have setbacks, those who are persistent enough get back up and continue to tackle it and have success. I live by that,” Fuentes said.