Listed as one of our potential breakout pitchers headed into 2023, Didier Fuentes’ overall numbers were nothing to write home about. Still, the 18-year-old showed his potential as a possible future top prospect.
As part of Atlanta’s 2021-2022 signing class, Fuentes was brought into the organization as a 17-year-old out of Colombia. He received a modest $75,000 signing bonus.
Preseason report card
While Fuentes did not make our preseason or midseason top prospects list, the young righty was one of our potential breakout pitchers to watch for the season.
Prior to this year, we hadn’t seen much of Fuentes, given the fact that he spent the 2022 season playing in the Dominican Summer League. There, he started 11 games, spinning a 2.25 ERA, 2.95 FIP, and 2.88 xFIP across 44 innings. Perhaps most impressively, Fuentes struck out nearly 29 percent of the batters he faced, while walking just 5.8 percent of them.
What we saw in 2023
Fuentes finally made his stateside leap in 2023 by suiting up for the Augusta GreenJackets. The numbers in his first official professional season were not very kind. But, those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt given the fact that Fuentes was a good three-and-a-half years younger than the average competition he faced in the Carolina League.
With Augusta, Fuentes got into 10 games, with seven starts. In 26 innings, he had a dismal 7.27 ERA and 6.01 FIP, but his xFIP showed all sorts of bad variance since it was a fine but not exciting 4.24.
The biggest issue for Fuentes as he made the jump straight to Low-A as an 18-year-old is he saw all of his peripherals dip. His strikeout rate fell to 23.7 percent; still solid but not great. His walk rate ballooned over 10 percent, which is a matter of concern for sure. He also gave up six homers and saw a pretty big decrease in his grounder rate, too.
The numbers for Fuentes were bad, but that’s no reason for doom and gloom for the teenage righty. He’s still oozing with potential and has shown the ability to get whiffs by the bushel. Most importantly, he has a key number on his side: his age.
Fuentes will most likely repeat Augusta to open up 2024, which is not a bad thing. The important thing is that he regains the form and strikeout numbers he posted in the Dominican Summer League. If he does that, the Braves might be aggressive and promote him to High-A Rome sometime during the season. The Braves aren’t afraid to push their arms that show up and show out, and he could stand to benefit from that policy if he proves deserving of a shot.