- April 5, 2019: Fernando Tatis Jr. was born into a Cardinals family 20 years ago. But he had no problem spoiling the Opening Day festivities in St. Louis. Tatis’ second career home run was the decisive blow in the Padres’ 5-3 victory at Busch Stadium. He sent a 97-mph Alex Reyes fastball into the left-field seats and punctuated it with an emphatic bat drop, capping a thrilling three-run seventh inning for San Diego.
“I got goosebumps and everything,” Tatis said. “It was a very special moment.”
Tatis Jr. was too young to remember it, but his father had only just been traded to St. Louis when he was born in January 1999. Tatis Sr. would go on to hit 60 homers as a Cardinal while serving as a useful utility infielder for three seasons. On April 23, 1999, he was wearing a Cardinals uniform when he became the only player to hit two grand slams in the same inning.
The fans in St. Louis don’t forget. When Tatis Jr. was introduced during pregame ceremonies, he received a rousing ovation.
“It's a credit to him, 100 percent,” he said. “He did some special things here, and they still appreciate it. I loved that.”
Now, Tatis Jr. has a memory of his own to cherish in St. Louis. The 20-year-old phenom had been disappointed that his first dinger came in a blowout loss. This one counted. Big time.
|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.|
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.
. 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.
He has impeccable style
. Just look at what he wore to keep the sun out of his eyes at last summer's Futures Game:
And while 98 percent of the shades players wear on the field are indistinguishable from one another, Tatis is out here making some statements
. 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.
His defense will put him on a lot of highlight reels
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)
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.
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.”
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.
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.