The lights were flicking on and off and the music was blaring in Club Isotope on Tuesday night.
The festive mood in the Albuquerque Isotopes clubhouse was thanks to a 7-2 win over the visiting Fresno Grizzlies, the ‘Topes’ fifth win in six games since last week’s Pacific Coast League All Star game.
And the music, as it always is with the team, was being provided by “D.J. Fuent,” the alter ego of 26-year-old third baseman and Colorado Rockies prospect Josh Fuentes, the keeper of the party playlist for the Triple-A team.
It didn’t hurt he also had a monster game with several defensive gems and a monster 3-run home run in the 8th inning. But good game or not, he’d be the music man of the ‘Topes.
“I’ve always been a music guy,” said Fuentes on Tuesday afternoon, while wearing a purple and black t-shirt with his own likeness as the team’s unofficial DJ, a team joke that has morphed into a very regular piece of the team’s daily routine now. “I’ve always had a bunch of playlists. Last year, I was a rookie here, and I just got on the mic (in the clubhouse). Nobody else was doing it. And I just kind of started playing music and pretending I was a DJ at a club. I sort of became the team’s DJ then and it hasn’t stopped.”
Music is an important, and potentially divisive, part of the minor league baseball ecosystem. Players, often in their early 20s, coming from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures, often use music to bond, clear their minds or just relax.
And fortunately for the Isotopes, Fuentes seems to have nailed the job down while he’s in Albuquerque with a wide variety of musical tastes for the diverse clubhouse.
“I think it’s great that we have that in the clubhouse,” said Isotopes outfielder Noel Cuevas. “It creates chemistry. Triple-A is a league where a lot of people come and go. It’s hard to have a core group of guys who stick together because there’s so much movement. … Music is one thing that unites us and makes us a better team.”
As for the DJ Fuent nickname, and t-shirts that all the players on the roster have, that only came about a year ago.
Fuentes often wore large Beats headphones when taking ground balls before games or wearing them while taking batting practice, leading to teammates giving him a hard time and him often looking back in the dugout after big hits motioning to his ears as though he was putting on headphones.
Last year’s teammate Zac Rosscup took his picture and, unbeknownst to Fuentes, made dozens of t-shirts that say The Fuent 96.7, the made up radio station for Fuentes.
What started as a bit of a joke can now be seen as regular batting practice t-shirts for the team, not only Fuentes.
“He bought the shirts then I started getting more into it,” Fuentes said. “I started taking requests (from teammates) and then we were wearing the shirts on the field and it sort of took off.”
He now does the pre- and postgame playlists for the team, plays the music during batting practice and helps teammates with walk-up songs
“Music before the game is most important,” Fuentes said. “You need music to get you jacked up. Everyone is hype.”
As for his critics, there are some.
“The one who complains a lot, and I’m going to totally, 100 percent throw him under the bus, is Sam Howard,” Fuentes said. “He listens to country music and everything I play he hates. Besides him, they’re all good with it, but he hates it. He’ll yell, ‘Booo!’ all the time, but he gets he has to put up with it. …
“People sometimes disagree with my music, and that’s OK,” Fuentes said. “We have our country guys. I’ve got my reggae guys, my rap guys, my Latin guys. I’m pretty diverse with my music. I’m Cuban, so I kind of already grew up with the Spanish and from California so there was reggae and others music. I’m not much of a country guy. But I can do some of it. Sometimes I ask the guys, but this is a dictatorship.”
COMING UP: Fuentes and fellow infielder Brian Mundell will be a part of a player appearance at American Home Furniture on July 27 from noon to 1:30 p.m. as part of a meet and great with fans in conjunction with Bedgear Performance Bedding.