Course with the San Diego Padres: the beautiful Christmas present of Miguel Cienfuegos
Miguel Cienfuegos recognizes this. One day, his belated but phenomenal progress could be the subject of a documentary. His friends have been telling him that since the Quebecer agreed with the San Diego Padres organization last week.
• Read also: Capitals of Quebec: Miguel Cienfuegos gets along with the Padres
This contract could hardly have come at a better time. Cienfuegos was playing for the winter in the Australian league, with the Adelaide Giants, when he got the long-awaited call-up. He quickly left Oceania to rest his arm.
But also, to celebrate with loved ones.
After delayed flights to Vancouver due to weather, the Gunner was finally back in Quebec on Thursday.
“The holiday season will be an opportunity to celebrate this accomplishment that I have been waiting for for 25 years,” he rejoices in an interview with the Log. It will be nice to be with the family, to be able to underline this with them. »
A line on his season
To say that three years ago, the left-handed pitcher, a little unmotivated, had chosen to draw a line under the baseball season. But in truth, the flame of « Fuego » always burned for his sport.
This is why the Laval resident showed up at Patrick Scalabrini’s Team Quebec training camp in 2021, the Frontier League club born from the merger between the Capitales de Québec and the Aigles de Trois-Rivières, the time of a campaign disrupted by the COVID-19.
Without certainty of making the club, but with the aim of demonstrating its know-how.
A dozen offers
The sequel looks like a fairy tale. Or to a great premise for a documentary, indeed. Effective on the mound, Cienfuegos went 9-6 in his first season with the team.
Then, he continued with almost superhuman statistics with the Capitals, last summer: a record of 10-2, an average of earned runs of 1.79.
These numbers have earned “Fuego” the title of Frontier League pitcher par excellence and the Claude-Pelletier trophy, which recognizes the best Canadian gunner playing in independent baseball.
They also allowed him to obtain nearly a dozen professional training offers from all over the place, including that of the Padres. Which was, he says, Scalabrini’s avowed aim at the start of the last campaign.
Cienfuegos always dreamed of getting his chance in affiliate baseball, despite the passing years. Two years ago, he mentioned his ambition to our colleague Benoît Rioux, when he was just starting out with Team Quebec.
The pitcher will have it now, in his mid-twenties. And despite all the confidence that inhabits him, from the height of his 6’4″, he still struggles to believe it. « All of this is going quietly through my head, » he says.
“What explains my progress over the past two years is the perseverance I have shown over the years, points out the product of the Laval Pirates, in the LBJEQ. My background is completely different from that of others. »
“But I was able to break through and believe in myself,” he adds, while underlining the contribution of the Capitals organization, including manager Scalabrini and pitching coach Robert Carson.
A Scalabrini who helped boost his confidence even further by naming him the franchise’s No. 1 pitcher last season, Cienfuegos said.
The “perfect fit”
Quebec will always have “a place for life in his heart”. “It was Quebec that put me back on my feet,” he smiles. I have everything to give to this city. »
But why did he choose the Padres, among the dozen offers he received? Because it was the “perfect fit”, explains the young veteran.
« I wanted a formation that could give me the chance to break into the pitchers, » he continues. They’ve made a lot of trades in the last few seasons — and even in the last year — in which they let go of a lot of minor league prospects.
« So it opens the door to pitchers of my age, with my experience, » says Cienfuegos.
According to the discussions he had with the Padres, the Quebecer can expect to see action at the AA level from the start of the season. But everything will depend on his performance at training camp, where he will be ready « to break everything », he says with a laugh.
A « Fuego Day » at the Padres?
And of course, Cienfuegos dreams that the famous « Fuego Day », this concept popularized by the Capitals when he was the starter of a game, is one day on display at Petco Park, the home of the Padres.
Even though he knows he will still have to work hard to reach the ultimate baseball player’s dream.
« This is just the beginning, » he says. If you really want to make a documentary one day, there has to be something exciting. I have to keep climbing the ladder. »