Prior to Wednesday’s game, CJ Abrams had played in all four Padres spring training games, and he indicated that Fernando Tatis Jr. has taken him on as his mentor.
After being taken with the sixth overall pick in the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft, the newest addition to the Padres farm system, CJ Abrams, finished out the year in the Arizona League, hitting .401 and earning league MVP honors. After 32 games in Rookie ball, Abrams was promoted to then Single-A Fort Wayne for the final two games, hitting .250 with a double and a stolen base. All signs pointed toward Abrams beginning the year in Fort Wayne at the start of the 2020 season.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic put a wrench in the plans, canceling the entire minor league season. Not applicable to just Abrams, but several Padres prospect, including MacKenzie Gore, Luis Campusano, Taylor Trammell, and Tucupita Marcano, among others, were counting on the 2020 minor league season to continue their development. Abrams was added to the Padres taxi squad but was assigned to the team’s alternate site.
“The alternate site was fun. I mean, San Diego was nice,” Abrams said. “We went out there and worked. Everybody worked hard, got better, and just picked up things that you would playing in a game.”
Two years his senior, Abrams has latched onto Fernando Tatis Jr. in spring training, observing how the Padres superstar goes about his business. Both tall and lanky, the two shortstops had similar defensive statistics in the minor leagues. Of course, Abrams’ sample size is much smaller, but he can learn a thing or two from his mentor.
Tatis committed 18 errors in his first year in the big leagues, second-most in the National League. For all the attention the Padres superstar gets for his offensive prowess, his defensive improvements last season flew under the radar. Similarly, Abrams committed 11 errors in 32 games in rookie ball, but he has been watching Tatis this spring to identify potential areas to improve his game.
“Just like the glove work, the footwork, how he approaches balls, stuff like that, anything I can get,” Abrams said of Tatis’s defense. “I pick it up.
“Tatis is obviously a great player. Being able to work with him and see him daily is amazing.”
Abrams is expected to play in the minor leagues this season, although the delayed start is certainly another obstacle for the 20-year-old shortstop to overcome. With Fernando Tatis Jr. firmly planted at shortstop for the next 14 seasons, Abrams is likely looking at a position change. Although he’s not particularly worried about that at the moment.
“I’m focused on what I need to do. Just get better, continue to get better, and have fun. Control what I can control.”