With Fernando Tatis Jr. headed to the 10-day Injured List, the San Diego Padres should give Ty France another shot in the majors.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the San Diego Padres are dealing with a Fernando Tatis Jr. injury this season. On April 28, he strained his left hamstring after doing the splits in an attempt to catch a poorly-thrown ball for a force out. Tatis Jr. was sidelined for 39 days, not returning until June 6.
Now the rookie sensation is dealing with back spasms that has placed him on the 10-day Injured List. He’s staying home while the team travels to Philadelphia to play the Phillies.
In Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Rays — the first day without Tatis Jr. in the lineup — the Friars slid Luis Urías over to shortstop and Greg Garcia played second base. Urías showed off his minor-league experience at short, making several defensive plays as the Friars rolled to a 7-2 victory.
Here are several reasons why.
First, the Padres see Urías as their second baseman of the future. With consistent starts and at-bats he’s finally hitting well in the majors. He’s also a clear upgrade at the position defensively over both Garcia and Ian Kinsler.
San Diego should keep him where he is and let him focus on the position he’s expected to play. Urías already has a lot on his plate trying to improve his performance in the box.
Second, Machado is just as adept at playing shortstop, perhaps even better, and has more major-league experience than Urías.
As a four-time All-Star and seven-year vet, Manny is much better suited to handle a changing workload than a prospect who’s still figuring out his place in the majors. No one can fully replace Fernando Tatis Jr., but the Padres should put that responsibility on Machado, not Urías.
Finally, there’s nothing left for Ty France in Triple-A. Leading all Pacific Coast League batters with a .399/.477/.770 line, France has absolutely crushed the minors this season similar to how Urías did. Flirting with a .400 average through 76 games is no joke.
Furthermore, France has experience playing with the Padres this season. When Tatis Jr. got hurt in April, the Padres dealt with it by putting Machado at shortstop, platooning Garcia and Kinsler at second, and bringing up France to play third.
His offensive performance at the time was less than stellar. He hit .235/.290/.357 over 34 games, a far cry from his performance with El Paso.
However, the Friars gave Urías a second chance after batting an abysmal .083/.241/.125 in his first stint in San Diego this season, and he’s just now starting to look comfortable. France has earned the chance to add to his 107 major-league plate appearances.
The Padres should also bring up him up for scouting and player evaluation. In reality, Ty France provides depth at various positions but doesn’t fit as a starter for this team.
He projects as a third baseman and potential first baseman, both of which are covered by Machado (for several years to come) and Eric Hosmer. With the Padres holding on to Wil Myers too, he’d likely be the first choice for backup in one of those positions considering his experience around the horn.
While El Paso has been giving France some opportunities at second base, he hasn’t had many reps; for now, that position belongs to Urías and it’s his to lose.
Recalling France would also give him another crack at major-league pitchers — if he can sustain a modicum of Triple-A success, he could prove to be a very valuable trade chip in the offseason as the Friars potentially seek to upgrade their starting rotation.
It’ll be hard for teams to ignore a a prospect who can produce offensively at a position of need with major-league experience, especially one who’s had the chance to learn from and play alongside veterans like Machado and Hosmer.
No doubt, the Padres see Urías as a building block of this team — that was made clear when they held on to him in the face of a Noah Syndergaard trade at the deadline. Giving him opportunities is a top priority for his growth and development, but they should be consistent at this stage in his career.
It just makes far more sense to let Urías develop at second, put Manny at shortstop, and recall Ty France for another major-league stint.
Give the former Tony-Gwynn prodigy a chance to show us what he’s got.
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