The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

July 4, 2013

MoonDogs, Fuentes become PERFECT MATCH

Northwoods League team needed shortstop; he needed place to play

MANKATO — In a perfect world, the Mankato MoonDogs would have had their top shortstop here when the season started in late May, and Josh Fuentes would be playing shortstop in some minor-league organization for the last couple of weeks.

But plans don't always work out, and now Fuentes is the starting shortstop for the local Northwoods League baseball team.

"Coming here has been really good for me," Fuentes said. "You play every day so you have the true minor-league experience, without the money. It's the next best thing. I was lucky to find a home here."

The MoonDogs had several other plans for shortstop, but one player didn't show up, three had injuries that prevented them from playing, one got drafted and signed with a professional organization and another was on a temporary contract and wasn't re-signed.

"Every year, it seems like one position gets hammered," MoonDogs manager Mike Orchard said. "Lats year, it was pitching. The year before it was catching. You never want to get hammered at short because it's such an important position, so we usually sign three and another guy who can slide into short when we need it. When we lost all of them, we were in a tough spot."

Fuentes was told he'd be drafted in early June, perhaps as high as the 10th round, so he didn't sign with a summer-league team. When he didn't get selected, all of the teams he had talked to already had their shortstop positions filled.

Fuentes, who spent the last two seasons at Saddleback College in California, is transferring to Missouri Baptist, so when the draft didn't work out, he contacted his new coach, who had a relationship with Orchard. The MoonDogs manager took a look at Fuentes' stats, which he said are tough to evaluate because of the level of competition and the aluminum bats. Taking the scouting report from the Missouri Baptist coach, contacted Fuentes.

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