KC Royals Balbino Fuenmayor Intrigues in Rule V Draft
By David Hill
Prior to tearing his ACL, Balbino Fuenmayor had become an intriguing player for the KC Royals. Now, they could potentially lose him in the upcoming Rule V Draft.
One of the KC Royals unheralded minor league free agent signings last season, Balbino Fuenmayor proved to be a revelation. Formerly a highly regarded prospect in the Blue Jays organization, Fuenmayor never lived up to expectations and was released at the age of 23, having never gotten higher than A ball.
Fuenmayor then went to the independent leagues, and rediscovered his batting stroke. With the Frontier Greys, and later the Laredo Lemurs and Les Capitales de Quebec, Fuenmayor began hitting for power. That carried over into the Venezuelan Winter League in 2014, when he hit ten home runs in 143 at bats, punishing the opposition.
Fuenmayor did not stop hitting in the Royals minor leagues. Originally assigned to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Fuenmayor continued to hammer the ball, posting a .354/.386/.591 batting line with 15 home runs and 22 doubles. Promoted to the Omaha Storm Chasers, Fuenmayor continued to produce, posting a .377/.371/.580 batting line with two home runs and six doubles in 69 at bats. Along the way, he even earned an extension from Kansas City.
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With his production, and that extension, it would have seemed likely that Fuenmayor would have ended up on the KC Royals 40 man roster, protecting him from the Rule V Draft. However, that ACL injury is the cause of some concern. While Fuenmayor may have missed the final month and a half of the season, his level of production has made him one of the more interesting players available in the upcoming draft.
By not protecting him, the Royals are likely taking a calculated gamble. The hope is that his injury, costing him the latter part of the season, would be enough to frighten other teams from selecting him, allowing the Royals to stash a player who could potentially make an impact at the major league level. Will a team risk having to keep Fuenmayor on their major league roster, given his injury?
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The KC Royals thought enough of Balbino Fuenmayor to offer him an extension despite his status as a career minor league player. The question now is, does another team think as highly of the resurgent first baseman as the Royals do?