Tatis Jr.’s power-speed combo on full display

April 21st, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Forget the fact that he's only 20. Few hitters in baseball -- of any age – own a speed-and-power combo quite like .

On Friday night, Tatis became the youngest player in baseball history to homer and steal three bags in a single game. Tim Raines, who was nearly 22 when he accomplished the feat twice in May of 1981, previously held that distinction.

So what if Tatis' final two steals came in the 11th inning with the Reds holding a two-run lead and paying him little attention? That's beside the point. Tatis' skill set is elite, and it's almost certainly not the last time he'll accomplish a feat like that.

"I'm happy I did it," Tatis said. "But I want to keep doing it. I'm looking forward to doing it more than one time."

He probably will. Tatis is hitting leadoff for the upstart Padres, and he's represented the bulk of their offense this week. On Friday night, the rookie phenom scored both of the Padres' runs -- the first on a 438-foot homer to right-center, the second when he walked, stole second and third base and then scored on an Eric Hosmer groundout.

The raw data is even more impressive. Tatis has three home runs with an exit velocity of 106 mph or harder this season. In the last week, his average exit velocity is 97 mph, which ranks eighth in the Majors.

Speed-wise, those numbers are similarly stellar. Tatis’ average sprint speed is 28.9 feet per second -- well above the MLB average, and tied for 20th out of 308 qualifying players. He has the Padres' fastest home-to-first time this season at 3.82 seconds on his bunt single against Madison Bumgarner on Opening Day.

Which tool does Tatis prefer showing off more?

"I like both," he said. "But I like my speed. There's so many ways I can use my speed -- on defense moving side to side, running the bases, stealing bases. It's all a part of it."

The power comes naturally enough for Tatis, who leads the team with six homers this season. The speed? Tatis is still fully learning how to use it against big league competition. He entered Friday's game with only one steal, and he's already been picked off and doubled off at first base.

"I think he's still finding his comfort level on the bases here at the big league level," Padres manager Andy Green said. "When he starts turning it loose and really finds a rhythm stealing bags, he has a chance to do a lot of special things."

Tatis' speed is just one tool out of five. Like the other four, it's elite.