At the age of 20, Fernando Tatis Jr. is displaying a ton of talent at the major league level. He is already a game changer for the San Diego Padres.
When Fernando Tatis Jr.’s name was called on Opening Day, he was greeted with a roar from a sold-out Petco Park. The aura around the 20-year-old is unlike anything Padres fans have seen in over a decade, and the initial results are promising for San Diego.
Tatis thrust himself into the conversation to start Opening Day during his time in San Antonio last season, in the Dominican Winter League this winter, and during Spring Training this Spring. Tatis is described as a five-tool future star, who at six-foot-four, already has incredible range at shortstop, a great eye at the plate, and is faster than most people give him credit for.
In a recent article written by Dennis Lin of The Athletic, Padres general manager A.J. Preller praised his ability to be a game changer. “… He has the ability to impact games in a lot of different ways. I think that Friday game was a taste of a guy who one day, even if it’s not four hits that day, it may be stealing a base, it may be going first to third, it may be scoring on a single, it might be a great defensive player using his arm.”
The Padres realize there will be peaks and valleys to the 20-year-old’s development as an everyday MLB player, but the potential is there. Even after just one series, Tatis has shown his abilities both defensively and offensively.
Tatis has also shown poise beyond his years. On Opening Day against the Giants, he went 2-for-4 and got the first hit of his career off Madison Bumgarner. With the count at 2-1, Tatis sent an 86 mph cut fastball past the dive of Evan Longoria at third base, and into left field to earn his first hit in his first at-bat. Later in the game, he laid down a bunt down the third base line and beat the throw to record an infield single.
He went on to start all four games at shortstop and proceeded to go 3-for-13 in the series.
It wasn’t just his offense that impressed many of the Friar Faithful. His defense was jaw-dropping in its own right.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) March 31, 2019
He looks calm and comfortable at shortstop, as well as smooth and composed. You wouldn’t expect anything less from a number one prospect, but seeing how he performs on the biggest stage speaks to his composure and maturity at such a young age.
While just 20 years old, Tatis is making plays that are All-Star caliber. Now, he has a long way to go before earning that right, but he is certainly taking steps in the right direction to make a name for himself at the MLB level.
One facet of his game that remains underrated is his speed on the base paths. At six-foot-four, most would be quick to dismiss his ability as a base runner, but in just the series against the Giants, he stole a base, recorded a bunt single, and sprinted from second to home at an elite level.
Second to home in 6.65 seconds, 30.3 ft/sec sprint speed (which qualifies as elite). https://t.co/BNmZqjVCrR
— AJ Cassavell (@AJCassavell) March 30, 2019
Tatis’ ability to be a game changer on the base paths adds yet another quality to his game that sets him apart from other prospects. What was once classified as average or below average, his speed as showcased above is anything but.
His speed, fielding ability, and eye at the plate all separate Tatis from other prospects and major leaguers and will help the Padres win games.
Whether it is stealing a base, bunting, or playing your position flawlessly, Tatis is part of what Andy Green and AJ Preller mean when they talk about creating a winning culture in San Diego. His attitude towards the game will only help him succeed in the long run, and his dedication to winning now is prevalent.
While shortstop has been a hole for the Padres for many years, Fernando Tatis Jr. is already proving to be a game changer for the San Diego Padres and will remain a rock at shortstop for years to come.