Fernando is the son of Fernando Tatis, former 11-year veteran big league third baseman. Unlike his father, Tatis, Jr. has a tall, lean frame with broad shoulders.
Junior often tagged along in clubhouses as a child. He was 11 when his father quit playing, so he remembers quite a bit about his final years with the New York Mets. Guidance on how to play the game has come over the years, of course, but so too has advice on how to navigate the early stages of the Minor Leagues.
"My dad just keeps it simple with me," said Tatis, whose grandfather played for about a decade in the Astros system. "He just says 'work hard, you know what to do and no matter what, have fun. Because this game is going to be tough on you, and you've got to keep it that way.'"
In 2015, the White Sox signed Tatis, Jr. (see Transactions below).
In 2017, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Ferando as the 17th-best prospect in the Padres' organization. They moved him to the top, as the #1 prospect in the Padres' organization in the winter before 2018 spring camp opened. And he stayed at #1 in 2019.
October 2017: Fernando was named the Padres Prospect of the Year by MLBPipeline.com. That is because Tatis became the first 18-year-old ever to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in the low Class A Midwest League and was promoted to Double-A San Antonio in August, where he hit .350 n the Texas League playoffs! At age 18!
Tatis, whose father (Tatis Sr.) played 11 years in the bigs and is the only man to hit two grand slams in one inning.
Tatis is a natural leader. He is nearly bilingual and an effective communicator with impressive self-awareness for his age.
The Padres knew Fernando was a special talent from the moment he arrived in June 2016. They didn't know just how special until one September afternoon in Tempe.
As a 17-year-old shortstop, Tatis had wowed scouts all summer with his easy athleticism, big league frame and smooth swing. But that was in Rookie ball. This was instructional ball, featuring the best young talent from every organization.
In the first inning that day, Tatis smashed a single and stole second then third on the next two pitches. In his next at-bat, he singled and stole two bases again. In his third at-bat, he launched an opposite-field home run. For good measure, he added an excellent defensive play.
"He just took over the entire baseball game," said one member of the Padres' player development staff. "He was so clearly the best player on the field that day. Then there was a week's worth of it. He hit oppo home run after oppo home run, made play after play, and we were like 'Oh my God.'"
The legend was born, though it took some time to make its way into the national consciousness. Tatis was still an unknown commodity, nowhere to be found on any prospect rankings. Twenty months later in Spring Training 2018, Tatis is the crown jewel of the Padres' top-ranked farm system. He's the presumed shortstop of the future.
The Padres conclude their developmental seasons with a prospects game at Petco Park. In 2016, they beat the Rangers in Tatis' first game at his future home stadium. In the clubhouse afterward, Tatis addressed the team unprompted. He told his teammates not to let up in their offseason work and that he believed in the direction of the system.
"It was cool to see," Sam Geaney, the Padres director of personnel, said. "The emotional maturity and the personal growth, I think that was a point we all thought was significant -- to stand up in front of his peers and deliver that message." "This is just the beginning," Tatis said. "We've got to grind every day now." This is just the beginning -- for his own career, and perhaps the revitalization of the San Diego Padres. (Cassavell - mlb.com - 3/13/18)
Tatis learned English as a second language at school and got to practice it in the States on his summer trips to follow his dad around the big leagues. He quickly became the favorite and best interview of anyone covering the Fort Wayne TinCaps last year. The youngest player on the team at age 18, Tatis quickly became the team leader.
“From the beginning, on his first day in town, he was unfazed by the idea of holding court,” Fort Wayne broadcaster and media relations manager John Nolan said. “Answering questions about himself, his dad, his team? He was never fazed by any of it.”
As the son of a big leaguer, Tatis Jr. cruised through childhood enjoying a life that was effortless compared with that of his father. He got a top-notch education. He grew up wandering through big league clubhouses. His mother, Maria, and his father have been able to provide him everything he needed. And his neighbor, Robinson Cano, has helped as well, taking Tatis Jr. under his wing and training with him in the offseason.
Tatis Jr. will have plenty of people to celebrate with. His dreams will only be beginning, but for his parents, it will be the culmination of a life-long desire. Their son has fulfilled his dreams, and they’ve helped clear the path.
“It is very special for me. To be close to him, it’s a very special moment,” Tatis Sr. said. “Watching him play and seeing everything he can do in baseball is amazing. Every day I just want to be there for him, teaching him the right way to get there. (JJ Cooper - Baseball America - 5/04/2018)
July 2018: Tatis represented the Padres in the All-Star Futures game.
Tatis played the entirety of the 10-6 loss to the U.S. squad, contributing a pair of hits, a stolen base and a run scored.
Jan 14, 2019: It's been a while since the Padres entered a season with a highly touted youngster set for significant time at shortstop. This year, they have two. To be clear, Fernando Tatis Jr. is San Diego's shortstop of the future. Tatis is the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB Pipeline, and he's going to take the reins at some point this season.
But it's unlikely Tatis opens the regular season with the big league club, having only played 102 games at Double-A. In the interim, Luis Urias will probably be handed the keys at shortstop. Urias is widely believed to be Tatis' long-term double-play partner at second base, but he split time fairly evenly between second and short in the Minors before making his Major League debut in late August last season.
Urias' case to be San Diego's Opening Day shortstop received a serious boost when the Padres signed Ian Kinsler in December. The move was made, in part, to address their shortstop opening, with the front office believing Urias could shift there until Tatis' arrival.
Tatis' ebullient personality should make him an instant fan favorite in San Diego, too. (Just look at this walk-off dinger and bat flip in winter ball.) In the best-case scenario, Tatis realizes his star potential in 2019, and the Padres have a shortstop worth building a contender around -- and a budding star at second in Urias to boot. (AJ Cassavell)
The Padres felt Fernando Jr. earned their starting shortstop job this spring. Tatis, who was born Jan. 2, 1999, will be the youngest Padres player in history to play on Opening Day, at 20 years, 85 days old. (Cassavell - mlb.com - 3/26/19)
March 27, 2019: Thanks to a collection of prospects regarded as the best in the game and an offseason highlighted by the signing of superstar infielder Manny Machado, the future is looking bright for the Padres. That future got a little bit closer: Fernando Tatis Jr. -- the No. 2 prospect in baseball -- was named the starting shortstop for San Diego on Opening Day. If all goes according to plan, the left side of the Padres infield will feature a pair of superstars with Machado at third and Tatis at short for the foreseeable future. You're probably familiar with Machado at this point, so it's high time you get to know his infield partner.
His dad was a pretty good player, too
Like Blue Jays prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Tatis' dad enjoyed a lengthy career in the Majors. In fact, Tatis Sr. and Guerrero Sr. were teammates in Montreal from 2001-03.
The elder Tatis is best known for making history as a member of the Cardinals, when he hit two grand slams in one inning off of Dodgers starter Chan Ho Park. That ended up being a career year for Tatis, as he wound up with 34 home runs and 107 RBIs.
Tatis Jr. has inherited his father's power. While Tatito hasn't (yet) hit two grand slams in a single inning, he has plenty of power in his own right. He spent part of his offseason in the Dominican Winter League, where he was busy launching home runs and bat flips to match.
He has impeccable style. While no official award was presented, Tatis clearly had the best hair in the Cactus League this year. One would think that had some influence on the team's decision to call him up.
And while 98 percent of the shades players wear on the field are indistinguishable from one another, Tatis is out here making some statements. Just look at what he wore to keep the sun out of his eyes at last summer's Futures Game:
His defense will put him on a lot of highlight reels. It's no small feat to have the defensive chops to supplant Machado at shortstop, but Tatis definitely has what it takes to earn that place on the diamond. Look at him get vertical to rob one line drive! And then get horizontal to rob another.
With Machado to his right at third base, opposing hitters would probably be wise to just avoid hitting the ball to the left side of the field entirely.
Even for a rookie, he's really young. When Tatis takes the field, he will be the youngest player in Padres history to play on Opening Day at 20 years, 85 days old. He will be the youngest player to start on Opening Day since Adrian Beltre debuted for the Dodgers in 1999, just a few months after Tatis was born. Only 31 position players at Tatis' age or younger have started on Opening Day since 1900. Just by stepping on the field, he's going to make history.
He's got wheels. While Tatis' bat is what gets everyone talking, he's not just another plodding slugger. He stole 7 bases in 23 games in the Dominican Winter League. In Spring Training, he only stole two bases, but still showed off his speed by going first-to-home on a relatively routine single up the middle. (CUT4 - Chesterton - March 27, 2019)
“We talk about Fernando's temperament a lot,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “We appreciate the fact that he's even-keeled. Because we saw that in him. ... That's why he's up here in the first place. We knew he could handle some ups and downs.” (Cassavell - mlb.com - 4/21/19)
MLB debut (March 29, 2019): In his major league debut, Tatis recorded two hits.
Fernando, Jr. has spent a pretty significant chunk of his life in a big league clubhouse. He was born months after Fernando Tatis Sr.’s legendary multi-grand slam inning. As he grew up, Tatis Sr. spent time playing for the Cardinals, Expos, Orioles and Mets, before his 2010 retirement.
“It was awesome,” Tatis Jr. said. “It was everything. Seeing my dad play baseball made my love for the game grow. I'm here because of him.”
Tatis has wowed the Padres with his demeanor during his rookie season. He’s behaved like a veteran, and he’s already become a spark plug for one of the Majors’ youngest teams.
Tatis firmly believes his maturity is a product of the time he spent alongside his father in the big leagues. The two still talk every day. “I think I got an advantage from that, seeing the game from the inside since such a young age,” Tatis said. I learned it pretty young.” (Cassavell - mlb.com - 6/16/19)
July 16, 2019: Tatis received the MLB Players Alumni Association "Heart and Hustle" award for the Padres. This esteemed award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game.
The Heart and Hustle Award is also the only award in Major League Baseball that is voted on by former players.
2019 season: While Tatis’ season-ending back injury limited him to 84 games this season, he still posted 4.2 WAR as a 20-year shortstop with a five-tool skill set. The only other modern players to have such a productive season at that position and age were Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Correa.
Before he was sidelined in mid-August with a back injury, Tatis was on pace for one of the greatest rookie seasons in franchise history. He batted .317/.379/.590 with 22 homers while playing a dazzling brand of shortstop.
But perhaps the most exciting part of his game was his breathtakingly audacious baserunning, mixing smarts and athleticism to baffle opposing defenses. The Padres have spent a decade in search of their shortstop of the future. At long last, they’ve found him.
Oct 10, 2019: In a surprise decision on the final day of Spring Training, the Padres announced that Fernando Tatis Jr. -- a 20-year-old with a seemingly limitless ceiling -- had cracked their Opening Day roster. Forget his age and inexperience. Forget service-time considerations. The Padres believed Tatis was the answer at shortstop in 2019. Thus, he would begin the season as their shortstop.
It didn’t take long for Tatis to prove that -- after a dozen years searching -- the Padres had found their shortstop of the future. To put Tatis' contributions into their proper perspective: Padres shortstops had combined for 3.1 wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs, in the 12 years since the team's last postseason appearance. In 84 games this season, Tatis bested that mark with 3.6 WAR.
Injuries limited Tatis to those 84 games. But he batted .317/.379/.590 with 22 homers. In the meantime, he showcased his elite speed and baserunning, and he had a knack for making big plays on defense, too.
"I think I went out there and gave people a small taste of what I've got," Tatis said last month. "It was fun, although we didn't finish how we wanted to finish. It's not over. There's going to be way better years to come."
After an age-20 season like that, who could argue?
What went right?
There was almost no adjustment period for Tatis upon his arrival in San Diego. He took over games with his bat, his glove and his wheels. Within a couple weeks, he was batting leadoff. Within a month or two, he was the undisputed catalyst on offense.
If not for his mid-August back injury, it's possible Tatis could have become the youngest player in baseball history to win a batting title. Perhaps more importantly, Tatis never fell into a prolonged slump at the plate. The 20-year-old found his way on base, even when he wasn't at his best. And when he was? He was one of the most exciting players in the sport.
What went wrong?
When he was healthy, Tatis was a star. Problem is, Tatis was healthy for only about half the season. He missed all of May with a left hamstring strain. Then, in early August, Tatis' rookie campaign was shut down due to a stress reaction in his lower back.
By all accounts, Tatis was approaching full health toward the end of September. (The Padres never considered taking any risks with a potential comeback though.) His injury shouldn’t linger into the offseason. That said, Tatis also missed two months at the end of the 2018 Minor League season with a broken bone in his left thumb. There are legitimate concerns as to whether he might be a tad injury-prone.
So many to choose from. Tatis' leaping grab to rob Tampa Bay's Jesus Aguilar is the lasting defensive image from his season. His acrobatic slides and his audacity to tag up on a pair of infield fly balls stand out, too.
But no moment typifies Tatis' impact more than the Padres' six-run rally in the ninth inning of a mid-June game against the Rockies. Tatis started the frame with a single. Then he capped the rally with a game-tying laser to center field. He did it all.
If he can stay healthy, Tatis' 2020 outlook is bright. He will continue to anchor shortstop, and he'll presumably sit toward the top of the order, too. He's on pace to become a perennial star, and Padres fans have clearly begun to embrace him. That feeling is mutual.
"I have fallen in love with this city," Tatis said. "I fell in love with these fans. They're all crazy out there, and I like it. I like how they've treated me, I like how they perceive me. Hopefully it's just the beginning of something good for a long time."ASS="highlight"> (AJ Cassavell - MLB.com - Oct 10, 2019)
2019: Tatis was third in NL Rookie of the Year balloting, behind Pete Alonso and Mike Soroka. Tatis finished third with two votes for second place and 20 for third place. No Padre has won the NL Rookie of the Year Award since Benito Santiago in 1987. Still, Tatis’ finish is the highest by a Padres rookie since Khalil Greene came in second to Jason Bay in 2004.
Nov 18, 2019: Don't ever take your eyes off Fernando Tatis Jr. Not when he's on the field, when his hair is flowing like he's on the cover of a romance novel and he's making diving plays that stretch the definition of what is physically possible. And certainly not when he's off the field, because -- well, what's the best way to phrase this? He's a legit snack.
I mean, sweet lord -- the 1970s-short shorts, the open sweatshirt, the Teen Beat-ready grin that's both disarming and charming at the same time, the sheer number of abs that I did not know existed.
Fellow phenom Vlad Guerrero Jr. had no choice but to respect it. Game recognize game.
But the fact that he can very obviously get it isn't even the best part. The best part is that this is a guy who knows exactly what he's doing, and who seems to have dedicated his offseason to turning himself into daily, extremely thirsty Instagram content for our enjoyment. Because really, if you looked like that, wouldn't you do the same?
They say that winter is a season for layers, for covering up with piles of blankets and coats to keep warm. Those people have never met Fernando Tatis Jr.We're at the point where he's not even hinting at verisimilitude. What even is this, a still from Fast and the Furious 10: Ab Weekend?
Is the strategy a little shameless? I mean, I guess, insomuch as putting anything on the internet is a little shameless. (Listen, that ukulele cover of "My Heart Will Go On" that I once made was embarrassing, but it was fun.). Yes, ostensibly, if Tatis were to shoot a video in which he danced shirtless in cowboy boots, that would perhaps be so goofy as to be -- oh, what's that? He did that? Oh. Oh, I see.
Sure, maybe it's gauche. But at the end of the day, social media accounts are supposed to represent who a person is on the inside -- and if so, Tatis' account is pretty perfect. Because here is a man who is young and exuberant and, yes, hot as hell, and that's what his posts represent. And heck, let's applaud the fact that he's willing to shoot his shot when most dudes' approach to life seems to be "Clint Eastwood drama about a man that is incredibly constipated." He's not always in a state of undress, by the way. Sometimes he's left shark. (CUT4 - MLB.com - Nov 18, 2019)
Fernando's younger brother, Elijah, is an infielder in the Chicago White Sox organization, signed in 2019.
Jan 2, 2020: Fernando Tatis Jr. is already one of baseball's most exciting players -- and he’s only just turned 21. From the moment he arrived, Tatis made it clear that he’s a different type of ballplayer. He does things other players can’t -- he scores from first on singles, tags from third on infield popups and hits homers that seem like they might never land. To celebrate Tatis' 21st birthday today, here are the 21 most dazzling moments from his incredible rookie year.
21. A glove and a cannon: What's more impressive here? Tatis’ smooth pick of Daniel Murphy's one-hop missile to shortstop? Or the ensuing 93.4 mph throw to first base, leaving no doubt.ASS="highlight">
20. Over the bullpen: Tatis' power is arguably his most overlooked tool. But he's got plenty of it -- as evidenced by this 440-foot blast, his longest at Petco Park last season.ASS="highlight">
19. First-to-home: When Eric Hosmer lifted a routine single to right-center field, Tatis -- who was on first base at the time -- never even broke stride. He scored from first base without the other team even attempting a tag.ASS="highlight">
18. Free RBIs: Ahh, the perks of hitting behind Tatis Facing the Cardinals in late June, Eric Hosmer bounced a chopper toward shortstop with Tatis on second base. Tatis didn't hesitate rounding third, and he cruised in safely when Paul Goldschmidt juggled the ball at first base.ASS="highlight">
17. The first of many: Tatis' first big league home run was a no-doubter. He destroyed a fastball from D-backs right-hander Merrill Kelly deep into the lower deck in front of the Western Metal Building.ASS="highlight">
16. A daytime moonshot: In his first trip to Wrigley Field, Tatis left a lasting impression. He demolished a 468-foot tater off Jose Quintana that nearly carried to the lower level of bleacher seats in straightaway center field.ASS="highlight">
15. Give him an inch...: As you may have noticed by now, Tatis has a habit of taking the extra base when it seems like he shouldn't. Facing the Giants, Tatis was on second base when Eric Hosmer bounced a chopper to the mound. When the ball caromed off Trevor Gott's glove, Tatis was home free.ASS="highlight">
14. Welcome to the big leagues, kid: Tatis wasted no time proving he belonged in the big leagues. Before his first game, he received a rousing ovation from fans at Petco Park who had long been dreaming of his arrival. He then pounded out hits in each of his first two at-bats -- against Madison Bumgarner, no less.ASS="highlight">
13. The moment you knew: Tatis was on the roster bubble when the Padres traveled to Scottsdale for a late Spring Training game. When Austin Hedges lined a routine single to center, Tatis scored from first base, and he made it look easy. To some in the organization, it was the moment they knew Tatis belonged.ASS="highlight">
12. Tatis' 180 grab: In the first of Tatis' truly spectacular defensive plays, the rookie shortstop changed direction twice as he backpedaled into left-center field. Then he reached up to rob Zack Greinke of a hit before tumbling onto the outfield grass.ASS="highlight">
11. Fielder's choice: Seriously, how many players could've scored on this routine chopper back to the mound from Eric Hosmer? Probably only one.ASS="highlight">
10. Tatis lays out: Combine Tatis' excellent instincts with his other-worldly athleticism, and these are the types of plays you get.
9. Laser show: A five-tool player in every sense of the phrase, Tatis owns a cannon at shortstop that might already be the best in the league. This 94-mph laser (after an excellent sliding stop, no less) was clocked as the fastest throw from a shortstop this season.
8. The infield-fly RBI, part two: What does it say about Tatis' daring baserunning that there are two plays on this list in which he tagged and scored on a popup to second base. This play against the Giants falls to eighth because, well, it wasn't the first time he’d done it. And the degree of difficulty was lower, with Giants second baseman Joe Panik backpedaling into right field.
7. Like father, like son: Fernando Tatis Sr. is best known as the only player in baseball history to hit two grand slams in the same inning. Tatis Jr. couldn't quite match that feat. But in the finale of his first series in L.A.ASS="highlight">, the younger Tatis became the youngest player ever with a multi-homer game at Dodger Stadium.ASS="highlight">
6.ASS="highlight"> A bat flip for the ages: Tatis is still waiting for his first walk-off homer in the big leagues.ASS="highlight"> If his reactionary bat flip when that happens is anything like his walk-off homer for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League last January, it'll be epic.ASS="highlight">
5.ASS="highlight"> He got knocked down, and he got up again: Giants starter Shaun Anderson came high and tight on Tatis, prompting a vitriolic response from a packed Petco Park.ASS="highlight"> No matter.ASS="highlight"> Tatis got his revenge on the next pitch.ASS="highlight"> He smashed a hanging slider into the right-center-field beach area.ASS="highlight"> "If you're playing this game, you're not supposed to have any fear," Tatis would later say.ASS="highlight">
4.ASS="highlight"> Rally starter, rally finisher: Facing the Rockies in mid-June, the Padres pulled off one of the most miraculous comebacks in franchise history, scoring six times in the ninth inning to tie the game (before winning in the 12th).ASS="highlight"> Tatis started the rally with an opposite-field single, then he capped the rally with a 116-mph rocket into center field, which scored two runs.ASS="highlight">
3.ASS="highlight"> Jumpman Tatis: If there's an image that has come to define Tatis' rookie season, it's this one.ASS="highlight"> His spectacular leaping grab to rob Jesus Aguilar gets better with every angle.ASS="highlight">
2.ASS="highlight"> The infield-fly RBI, part one: Just look at the audacity of this play.ASS="highlight"> Hunter Renfroe hits a routine popup to Pirates second baseman Kevin Newman -- who even looks at Tatis immediately.ASS="highlight"> Tatis takes off anyway and executes a perfect head-first dive as he stretches his left hand across home plate.ASS="highlight"> He was initially ruled out, but the call was overturned after a review.ASS="highlight">
1.ASS="highlight"> Tag him if you can: For all of Tatis' elite skills, his baserunning instincts are probably the most exciting.ASS="highlight"> How many other players could have escaped a routine rundown merely by sliding? Tatis had been picked off by Braves right-hander Mike Soroka -- only to evade Soroka's tag with a Matrix-esque slide that needs to be seen to be believed.ASS="highlight"> (AJ Cassavell - MLB.com - Jan 2, 2020)
July 2, 2015: Tatis, Jr. signed with the White Sox for $700,000, via scout Miguel Peguero.
“The way he carried himself was impressive,” said Padres GM A.J. Preller, who first scouted Tatis with the Rangers. “He was just a good baseball player. He had a feel for the game. You get around him and his presence is pretty impressive for such a young kid.”
- June 4, 2016: The Padres traded P James Shields and cash ($825,000 in the 2015 international class) to the White Sox for Erik Johnson and 3B Fernando Tatis Jr.
|DOB:||1/2/1999||Agent:||Roger Tomas - MVP Sports|
|Birth City:||San Pedro De Macoris, Dom. Rep.|
|Draft:||2015 - White Sox - Free agent - Out of the D.R.|
Tatis, Jr. has a chance to be the rare everyday shortstop who is a true power-speed threat. He has a loose, rhythmic swing with a lot of moving parts that sometimes get out of whack, but when everything is in sync he is an offensive force.
Fernando tracks pitches deep and powers his barrel through the zone, driving the ball with excellent extension and leverage.Balls explode off his bat from gap-to-gap, and he shows off his plus-plus raw power with towering pull-side home runs.
Tatis has bouts of over-aggressiveness that lead to elevated strikeout totals, but he generally self-corrects. An above-average hitter with plus power and possibly more, Tatis enhances his offensive game with his speed. (Kyle Glaser - BA Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2019)
Fernando has an advanced feel for hitting with power to all fields, and the ball jumps off his bat, but he’s a free swinger who sometimes chases balls out of the zone.
Fernando's power is starting to develop, as of the end of the 2017 season. The ball jumps off his bat.
Tatis Jr. gets 60 grades for both his hitting tool and power.
Fernando has a good feel for the barrel, but he has a lot of moving parts in his swing. He can drive anything in the strike zone with leverage.
Tatis Jr. now tracks pitches well, consistently driving hittable pitches with excellent leverage and extension in his righthanded stroke.
The hitting philosophy he learned from his father allowed him to adjust to the steady diet of breaking balls he saw.
“I’m just staying short, trying to hit the ball to the other side,” said Tatis.
The turnaround, TinCaps manager Anthony Contreras said, started in earnest in batting practice.
“In the beginning of the year,” Contreras said, “it was like, ‘I know I’ve got power, and I want to show what I can do.’ He would hit the ball out of the ballpark type thing in BP.
“Now he’s in the cage and you see him going up the middle, you see him going the other way, knowing that the way these guys are pitching him . . .
“It’s a tribute to his maturity. For an 18-year-old, it’s exciting to see him make those types of adjustments.” (Jeff Sanders - San Diego Union Tribune - June, 2017)
2017 season: In a 91-game stretch Tatis hit .300 with 19 home runs, 56 RBI and 23 stolen bases, becoming the youngest 20-20 player in Midwest League history. That earned him a call-up to Double-A San Antonio, where Tatis entered the playoff hunt … finished on a 9-game hitting streak … and in the post-season hit .350 as the Missions leadoff hitter, scoring a run in every single game.
2018 Season: Tatis finished second in the league with an .862 OPS despite being its youngest player on Opening Day. Even on the rare days he didn’t get a hit, he found other ways to beat teams, drawing walks, stealing bases, and preventing hits with his glove.
Fernando rebounded from a concerning April (.564 OPS) to produce a .327/.400/.572 line over his final 64 games. The No. 2 overall prospect finished the season with career highs in batting average (.286) and slugging (.507), paired 16 home runs with 16 stolen bases.
October 2018: Tatis was named the MLB Pipeline Hitting Prospect of the Year for the Padres.
March 28, 2019: The Padres made Fernando the youngest player to start on Opening Day in 20 years, in large part because they knew he'd be able to handle the stage. The 20-year-old shortstop wasted no time proving them right.
Tatis recorded his first two big league hits in the Padres' 2-0 season-opening victory over San Francisco. He smacked a single through the left side in the second inning off Madison Bumgarner. Then he dropped a bunt single toward third base in the fifth.
With his 2-for-3 afternoon, Tatis became the youngest player to record a multi-hit game on Opening Day since a 19-year-old Robin Yount in 1975. "It came pretty fast, I won't lie," Tatis said of his big league callup. "But I think I played for it, I worked for it, and here we are."
The Padres feel the same way. Tatis was their best shortstop in Spring Training. And thus, he was in the Opening Day lineup batting sixth. "It exceeded my expectations," Tatis said afterward. "The way the fans received me, it was amazing." (Cassavell - mlb.com - 3/28/19)
April 1, 2019: Merrill Kelly threw a belt-high fastball to Fernando Tatis Jr. in the sixth inning. Tatis -- with that simple, yet violent right-handed swing the Padres have dreamed on for years -- turned on it with authority. The baseball soared deep into the left-field seats, and Petco Park rose in unison.
Won't be the last time. After the game, the fan who retrieved Tatis’ home run met the rookie shortstop on the field and presented him with the baseball. The two took pictures together, and Tatis autographed a different ball, before retreating to the clubhouse. He plans to present the baseball to his father, the longtime big league infielder he grew up watching.
“There's a lot of memories, seeing my dad all my life and watching him hit balls out of the field,” Tatis said. “Now, history has been changed. Now he's seeing me. It's very special.”
July 7, 2019: Tatis, 20, became the youngest player in history to go deep twice in a game at Dodger Stadium. (Scott Rolen had done so as a 21-year-old in 1996.) He’s also the youngest Padres hitter to record a multihomer game, surpassing the previous mark set by a 22-year-old Cesar Crespo in 2001.
July 30, 2019: Tatis and Franmil Reyes needed only two swings, marking the first time in franchise history the Padres started a game with homers on the first two pitches they saw.
Aug 4, 2019: Regardless of whether his name shows up on the league leaderboards, Fernando Tatis Jr. is putting together a flat-out incredible rookie season. But the Padres' rookie phenom will finally have enough at-bats to qualify for those leaderboards later this month -- the first time since he missed May with a hamstring injury. At his current pace, Tatis is eight games away, which lines him up to be eligible by the end of the Padres' next homestand. At that point, Tatis could find himself on the verge of history.
If he were to finish with the National League's highest batting average, Tatis would be the youngest player in Major League Baseball history to win a batting crown. He'd be in good company, too, barely edging out Hall of Famers Al Kaline and Ty Cobb -- the only other 20-year-olds to do so.
To be sure, Tatis remains something of a long shot. He's hitting .323, 13 points behind the Mets' Jeff McNeil, who sits atop the leaderboard. Tatis has the Brewers' Christian Yelich (.330) and the Dodgers' Cody Bellinger (.326) and the Rockies' Charlie Blackmon (.325) to jump as well.
"I'm not thinking about it," said Tatis. "But it's for sure something that I would love to win. It's very important for me to start my career and set that base for myself."
It would be quite a start, indeed. No Padres player has earned an NL batting crown since Tony Gwynn won his eighth 22 years ago. The award given to the NL's batting leader is now named after Gwynn, who hit .372 in 1997. Tatis is unlikely to reach the lofty batting-average standards set by Gwynn -- a career .338 hitter. But in an era that places less emphasis on average, the Padres are confident Tatis will grace those leaderboards on a yearly basis.
"He'll do it at some point," said Padres hitting coach Johnny Washington when asked about Tatis' push for a batting title. "We think he's an MVP-caliber type player. He's a premier talent, and nothing surprises me when he does it."
If anything, Tatis' game should lend itself nicely to a high average. Sure, his strikeout rate is a bit high, but when he makes contact, it's often loud contact. He's reached 115 mph with his exit velocity and has hit 36 balls 105 mph or harder. Couple that with elite speed and solid pitch recognition, and Tatis has an ideal skill set for keeping his average high.
"He has some tools that others don't," Washington said. "He legs the ball out, and he hits the ball harder than some other guys. ... Some nights he'll hit three balls in the infield and get three hits. Some nights he'll hit three bullets and get no hits. But over the long haul, it's for sure in his favor."
In the Padres' eyes, however, the most impressive aspect of Tatis' rookie season has been his poise. On multiple occasions, he's looked lost at the plate to start a game, only to finish it with critical hits in the later innings.
"I struggled a lot in the Minor Leagues, and I learned to not give at-bats away," Tatis said. "Those at-bats are the ones that at the end of the year, instead of hitting .297 or .298, you're hitting .308. Those at-bats still count. They're still very important. You can't give them away."
Said Washington: "There's an inner calmness that he has, an inner confidence. He understands that if he just continues plugging, continues doing what he's doing, he'll be fine. Wherever he ends up at the end of the year, I don't think he chases numbers. He's just chasing being great. Wherever those numbers are, that's where they end up." (A J Cassavell - MLB.com - Aug 4, 2019)
- August 7, 2019: Tatis became only the 10th rookie shortstop in Major League history to reach the 20-homer plateau. The home run record for a rookie shortstop is 30 by Nomar Garciaparra in 1997.
Originally projected as a third baseman, Tatis has the balance and instincts to stay at shortstop. And he has the quick reactions and reliable glove to stay at short. Improved fitness allowed for quicker reactions and more range at shortstop.
Fernando has a plus-plus 70-grade arm with fairly good lateral range, reliable hands and smooth actions. His overall defense gets a 60 grade. (Spring, 2019)
At shortstop, Tatis frequently makes highlight-reel plays and shows off a plus, accurate arm, but on a play-to-play basis, evaluators see fringy range and many project a move to third base if he grows bigger. Tatis will stay at shortstop for now and has the actions to stick there if he maintains his body.
And while Tatis has grown taller—he now stands 6-foot-4—he has worked hard to stay slim and agile. He could still outgrow shortstop, but scouts generally see that as something that could happen in the distant future.
“I’ve been working a lot to stay at short. I want to be a shortstop,” Tatis said. “I’ve been working for that, and I feel like I’ve proved I can stay there for a long time.”
Tatis has the plus to plus-plus arm that scouts (and the Padres) love to see in their shortstops. His length, agility and vertical reach are reminders that volleyball was one of his other passions as a kid. Now he goes high to snag line drives. (JJ Cooper - Baseball America - 5/04/2018)
Fernando, Jr. has average speed whose speed plays up on the bases with his ability to read pitchers' moves and a quick jump off first. So he gets a 60 grade for his baserunning.
Tatis is a 60 grade runner who has improved his reactions who reaches 70 grade speed once under way.
- April 19, 2019: Tatis became the youngest player in baseball history to homer and steal three bags in a single game. Tim Raines, who was nearly 22 when he accomplished the feat twice in May of 1981, previously held that distinction.
- June 12, 2019: Exhibiting a poise and confidence well beyond his 20 years, Tatis scored from second base on a ball that didn't even leave the infield. Tatis' sprint speed scoring on this play: 29.1 ft/sec (MLB avg: 27 ft/sc). He went 2nd-to-home in 7.06 seconds despite slowing down when he got to 3B.
That's the kind of no-time-to-think-just-act-on-instinct thing that separates elite baseball players from the rest of the pack. Let's remember that he was on the injured list with a hamstring strain. Some players might take things a bit gingerly upon returning from an injury like that, but not him. No way. Just 100 percent, all the time.
He also had to maneuver a bit of a swipe-slide at home plate to avoid the tag ... which was also no problem whatsoever. If you were wondering about his sprint speed around the bases, the answer is yes, he was efficient.
July 9, 2018: Fernando Tatis Jr.'s long-awaited big league debut probably isn't going to take place this season, after all. Tatis, the Padres' top prospect and No. 3 on MLB Pipeline's 100 Prospects List, injured his left thumb sliding head-first into second base on a steal attempt. The 19-year-old shortstop will see a hand specialist in San Diego, and sources said his injury could require season-ending surgery. It's undoubtedly a tough blow for the Padres, but a team source noted that the club doesn't view the injury as problematic in the long-term. Still, it makes a 2018 callup for Tatis -- currently with Double-A San Antonio -- very unlikely.
"We'll have more information I think here this weekend," general manager A.J. Preller said on MLB Network Radio. "… I think we'll look at potentially a fracture, potentially some ligament damage. We'll get a sense here coming out of the MRI over the weekend. They want some of the swelling to go down and then get an idea where it goes from there. I think, ultimately, we'll have more of a better idea when we get through the weekend what it's going to mean. He's probably going to miss some time, though."
Tatis was hitting .286/.355/.507 with 43 RBIs in 88 games with San Antonio this season. Closing in on what would be a second consecutive 20-20 season, he led off Thursday's game with his 16th homer of the year and was attempting to steal his 17th base when he sustained the injury.
It was an unfortunate setback for the Padres on the day they added a 10th Top 100 prospect to their system by trading Brad Hand and Adam Cimber to Cleveland for catcher Francisco Mejia (No. 15 overall).
The injury also puts some question marks surrounding San Diego's offseason plans at shortstop. Freddy Galvis becomes a free agent after the year, and the Padres don't have a ready-made replacement. Presumably, Tatis could slide into that spot, but the Padres envisioned some further Minor League development for him before his big league callup.
July 21, 2018: Tatis was on the DL. They discovered an avulsion fracture in his left thumb and he underwent season-ending surgery.
April 28, 2019: The rookie shortstop pulled his hamstring in Washington when he did a split while covering second base on a force play. It’s unclear if the injury is more severe than that, and a hobbled Tatis declined to comment, The Padres have scheduled further tests on Tatis to gauge the extent of his injury.
April 29-June 6, 2019: Tatis was on the IL with left hammy strain.
Aug 13, 2019: Tatis has been battling some back soreness, and he was removed from the game after a sixth-inning strikeout because of the injury. The Padres' rookie phenom has been dealing with an ailing back that is likely to land him on the injured list, according to team sources.
Aug 16-Nov 4, 2019: Fernando Tatis Jr.'s stellar rookie season was done due to a stress reaction in his back. Tatis was officially placed on the IL series opener against the Phillies after an MRI revealed the back injury. He had been battling some back soreness recently.