San Diego Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr Won’t Start Season With Friars

SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 30: Andy Green
SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 30: Andy Green /

As talented and exciting as this young player is, he simply needs more at-bats at the minor-league level before he’ll be ready to join the San Diego Padres and stay there.

There’s been some chatter regarding the San Diego Padres’ young phenom Fernando Tatis, Jr. beginning the season, as a 19-year-old with only 706 career MiLB at-bats under his belt, with the Friars. That will not happen.

To be perfectly honest, over two seasons between Rookie Ball and Double-A, his numbers have only at-times suggested what his Cactus League numbers this year are pointing towards. In other words, his otherworldly spring productivity is almost certainly unsustainable…for now.

The son of former major-leaguer Fernando Tatis, the 6’3″ 19-year-old Dominican native only got his first taste of professional baseball in 2016, getting 220 at-bats between the Padres’ AZL fall-season and Short-A Tri-City. He slashed .273/.311/.432 with four home runs and 25 RBI to go along with 17 doubles while also playing a sparkling shortstop.

In 2017, Tatis broke out at Single-A Fort Worth. He hit 21 home runs, 26 doubles, seven triples, and racked up 69 RBI and 29 stolen bases in just 431 at-bats. After a promotion to Double-A San Antonio, in 55 at-bats, he had 14 hits (one double, one homer) with an OPS of .608.

Tatis headed into Padres’ camp on a mission

Clearly, finishing out his year with that sour taste in his mouth gave him all the more reason to work hard this past offseason. He showed up in Peoria looking to turn some heads. And turned they have.

So far this spring, Tatis has received ample opportunities to showcase his skills, and he’s made to absolute most of the chances Padres’ manager Andy Green has given him. In 29 at-bats over eleven Cactus League games, he’s hitting .310 with a .892 OPS with three doubles, one home run, and eight RBI.

His eleven strikeouts are a definitely a bit concerning. But considering the upgrade in pitching he’s been seeing while in major-league camp, this increase in K’s is totally understandable.

Plus, if we jump back to last season for a second and look at his .910 OPS while playing against A-Ball hurlers, it’s not much higher than his ST numbers this season. That’s an extremely encouraging sign, in my opinion.

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San Diego Padres’ 2018 expectations for Fernando Tatis Jr.

This year I’d expect to see Tatis begin the season with the San Diego Padres’ Triple-A affiliate in El Paso, getting all the at-bats he can against quality pitching.

Though if he should continue to mash at El Paso, which is more-than-possible considering the track record of the PCL, we could see him make him MLB-debut before the end of the 2018 season.

Whether he takes that step this year or not, that doesn’t change the fact that this young man is on a bee-line to the major leagues.

When Freddy Galvis‘ contract runs out at the end of this year, Tatis’ progress this season figures to weigh heavily on Padres’ GM AJ Preller’s decision whether to re-sign Galvis long-term.

Galvis would certainly be heading into those negotiations knowing that he is only a place-holder, and that could seriously affect his decision-making process as to where he wants to sign his first true free-agent contract.

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If Galvis has a great year, obviously, his stock would rise heading into free agency. If Galvis is having himself a solid season, and so is Fernando Tatis, Jr., come July, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Preller move Galvis for a few more blue-chip prospects and bring Tatis up to the bigs for the stretch run in, hopefully, a playoff race.