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 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.