Tatis Jr. lives up to hype in stellar rookie campaign

A superstar blossoms in San Diego

Fernando Tatis Jr.

“No” was the answer teams generally got when they asked the San Diego Padres about Fernando Tatis Jr. And for their reward, they now have a budding superstar on their hands.

Indeed, in the 20-year-old son of former major leaguer Fernando Tatis, the Pods have a five-tool shortstop in the midst of a historic season. As of early July, he was hitting .328 with 12 home runs, 29 RBIs, a .394 on-base percentage and a gaudy .996 OPS in 201 at-bats. He also has elite-level speed that has produced 13 stolen bases in 16 attempts, a cannon arm and is a solid defender. True, his strikeout total is high (65) but that is about the only blemish on what has otherwise been a stellar rookie campaign.

How stellar? Consider this: He’s done this at an age at which Derek Jeter, Ozzie Smith, Cal Ripken Jr. and Nomar Garciaparra had yet to reach the majors and when they did, didn’t produce numbers like those. And prior to 2019, Tatis had never played above AA ball.

Helping him in his transition to the majors is another young superstar and the man who plays next to him in the Padres’ infield, third baseman Manny Machado. In fact, it was Machado, who signed a lucrative free agent contract with San Diego over the winter, who with new teammate Eric Hosmer implored Padres’ owner Ron Fowler to bring Tatis to the big club this spring. He agreed, and now the Padres have a left side of the infield that is the envy of the other 29 teams.

Tatis and the Padres can be seen in action Saturday, Aug. 10, when they host the Colorado Rockies in a game airing on Fox Sports 1.

Name: Fernando Gabriel Tatis Medina

Birth date: Jan. 2, 1999

Birthplace: San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic

Height/weight: 6 feet 3 inches/185 pounds

Teams: San Diego Padres (2019-present)

Position: Shortstop

Bats/throws: Right/right

No.: 23

Honors and achievements: In four minor league seasons, batted .280 with 42 home runs, 143 RBIs, a .360 on-base percentage and an OPS of .847; at the beginning of 2019, was ranked in the top three of prospects in baseball by MLB Pipeline, ESPN, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus; hit first MLB home run on April 1

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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