Fernando Tatis Jr. Refocuses His Approach
Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.’s OPS had sunk to .488 a few weeks into the season as Double-A San Antonio’s primary three-hole hitter.
A move to the leadoff spot—a source of comfort a year earlier when he took off at low Class A Fort Wayne—was as much about refocusing an approach that had skewed toward driving in runs (and expanding his strike zone in search of hits) over simply getting on base.
The 19-year-old has paired a .284/.360/.518 batting line with 15 home runs and 14 stolen bases for the Missions—all as the second-youngest player in Double-A. That sampling includes a stretch in May in which he hit .336/.414/.639 as the Texas League player of the month.
"I think it was one thing about my timing and learning what the pitchers were doing to me and just learning a little bit about the league,” Tatis said. "It’s a process. I go and learn and do my best.”
BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD
High Class A Lake Elsinore outfielder Buddy Reed has improved by leaps and bounds in his second full year since the Padres made an upside play on his athleticism as a second-round pick out of Florida in 2016.
The 23-year-old center fielder hit .328/.377/.542 through 74 games and led the California League in average and stolen bases (33) and ranked third in extra-base hits (37). The switch-hitter had been similarly productive from both the left side of the plate (.938 OPS) and the right (.842), while improving his overall two-strike approach.
"I think his challenge is to . . . steal some bags and be athletic on the bases, and I think he has,” farm director Sam Geaney said.
"Across the board, he’s slowly making some refinements to his approach and how selective he is at the plate. Overall, he’s had a tremendous year. Obviously he’s a high draft pick and highly touted, but he’s making people notice him outside the organization.”
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** As fast as the Padres believed lefthander MacKenzie Gore might climb the ladder, contending with blisters this year at Fort Wayne has dialed back expectations to a degree for the 19-year-old’s first full season in pro ball. He recorded a 5.40 ERA through just 20 innings through the end of June.
"Just taking a baseball, being healthy and slowly building innings,” Geaney said, "is a good goal.”