With all of the talk about service time manipulation in recent years, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Padres top prospect Fernando Tatis, Jr. would open the season in the minors, at least until mid-April when the club secures another year of contractual control. However, Dennis Lin of The Athletic reports that Tatis has made the Padres’ Opening Day roster.
Tatis is rated by just about every outlet as the No. 2 prospect in baseball behind Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. Tatis is well-regarded for his bat, speed, and defense. Last year, with Double-A San Antonio, he hit .286/.355/.507 with 16 home runs, 43 RBI, 77 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 394 plate appearances. Tatis did not exactly knock the cover off of the ball this spring, batting .241 in 54 at-bats, but showed enough to the Padres’ brass to warrant inclusion on the 25-man roster.
Tatis will displace Luis Urías from the starting shortstop job, handling the left side of the infield alongside newcomer Manny Machado. Urías will open the season at Triple-A.
The Padres are projected to be around a .500 team, but a full season of Tatis could move the needle quite a bit and make them a legitimate NL Wild Card threat or more. Kudos to the Padres for putting together their best possible roster rather than gaming their prospects’ service time.