Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. is the youngest player in any big league camp anywhere. It just doesn’t look like it.
The 19-year-old homered in his Cactus League debut. He then logged a four-hit, five-RBI game against the White Sox—the team that originally signed him—swiped three bases, stroked an opposite-field single on a fastball away from Madison Bumgarner and collected several web gems in a busy spring.
Tatis is almost certainly ticketed for a return to Double-A San Antonio. It’s just not that far-fetched to imagine him at Petco Park.
“It’s not an impossibility, but it’s highly unlikely (this Opening Day),” Padres manager Andy Green said. “He’s here to get the experience and be around. He’s playing a lot. Right now, being around the team, being around me, being around the staff, seeing what the expectations are . . . this is a highly beneficial camp for him. He’s going to be really good and he’s going to show us when he’s ready to play.
“Until that day comes, we’ll let him continue to develop.”
Tatis’ rise to this point is already meteoric.
The son of a major leaguer, Tatis was 16 when the White Sox signed him for $700,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2015. He was 17 when the Padres ate additional money in the James Shields trade to pry Tatis away from Chicago. He was 18 when he hit .278/.379/.498 with 22 homers and 32 steals while shooting from low Class A Fort Wayne to the Texas League.
Today, Tatis is 19 years old and the No. 9 prospect in the game. His tools—from his advanced approach to blossoming power to plus arm to natural leadership skills—are immense. The biggest question the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Tatis faces is whether he outgrows shortstop sometime after he arrives at Petco Park.
Tatis is only concerned about the present. His future is coming soon.
“I’m going to prove I’m not this age,” Tatis said when he arrived at camp. “That’s my mindset. I’m ready to compete and show off what I got.”
• Minor league free agent import righthander Robert Stock generated early buzz in camp with a fastball that touched 100 mph, aggressiveness in the strike zone and an 82-86 mph breaking ball that fooled Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in successive at-bats. The Padres are the fourth organization for the 28-year-old Stock, a converted catcher and 2009 second-round pick out of Southern California.