Fernando Tatis Jr. lobbies for Padres top prospect to make Opening Day roster

El Niño wants to see the Padres throw caution to the wind.
San Diego Padres outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr.
San Diego Padres outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr. / Masterpress/GettyImages

Fernando Tatis Jr. knows all too well what it's like to be a highly-touted prospect on the verge of stardom. So if he thinks that Jackson Merrill is big league-ready, perhaps the San Diego Padres' brass should listen.

FOX 5 San Diego's Chase Izidoro spoke recently with Tatis about what he's seen from Merrill. Tatis' point was simple, saying, “I’ve seen enough, this guy should break with the club." That sounds like a ringing endorsement from one of the Padres' best players.

Tatis may be on to something here. Not only would brining Merrill back to San Diego as a member of the Padres Opening Day roster solve one of the roster's biggest holes, it would do so while costing the league minimum. The Padres could then spend their remaining payroll to help shore up the starting rotation.

Fernando Tatis Jr. gives vote of confidence to Padres top prospect Jackson Merrill

Merrill's first taste of Cacus League play has seen him logging playing time outside of his natural position. Merrill started in left field for the Padres spring opener last week against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and grabbed another start in the outfield over the weekend.

New manager Mike Shildt gave Merrill a day off from the field on Sunday, but the 20-year hit atop the batting order as the Padres designated hitter. Merrill appeared in three of the first four Cactus League contests this spring, and Sunday's game saw him go 2-for-2 with two RBI.

Merrill has played good enough defensively to warrant consideration as well. Though a shortstop by trade, Merrill worked all over the diamond during the offseason in preparation for the upcoming season. Making a seamless transition to left field won't be the overriding factor that sees Merrill break camp with the Padres. It'll be his bat.

Merrill has always been viewed as a bat-first prospect. Ranked among the Top 100 prospects in baseball (per MLB Pipeline), Merrill is known for his ability to hit the ball to all fields. And while he may lack the raw power to crush 30-plus homers in a season, playing half of his home games in the cavernous outfield of Petco Park could see Merrill transform into a doubles machine.

With only three outfielders currently on the Padres 40-man roster, Merrill's increased playing time and vote of confidence from Tatis will go a long way toward his candidacy for the Opening Day roster. If his defense remains steady and his bat stays consistent, Merrill has great shot to leave Peoria with a ticket for San Diego.