Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Young shortstop Tatis 'knocking at the door'

No. 8 prospect in baseball arrives at first big league camp
MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- There have been no shortage of expectations heaped upon 19-year-old Fernando Tatis Jr. in the past year. According to MLB Pipeline, he's the No. 8 prospect in baseball, the second-ranked shortstop and among the top Padres prospects.

Many believe Tatis is the club's shortstop of the future, the answer to a decade-long search for a long-term solution at the position.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- There have been no shortage of expectations heaped upon 19-year-old Fernando Tatis Jr. in the past year. According to MLB Pipeline, he's the No. 8 prospect in baseball, the second-ranked shortstop and among the top Padres prospects.

Many believe Tatis is the club's shortstop of the future, the answer to a decade-long search for a long-term solution at the position.

But as an unassuming Tatis arrived in Peoria on Friday, he didn't do much in the way of looking ahead, preferring to focus on the task at hand -- his first trip to big league Spring Training.

Spring info | Tickets | Schedule

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Still, it's clear Tatis has his sights set on bigger things. Should his run of Minor League success continue, it's feasible he'll earn a September callup.

"I'm going to push," Tatis said. "I'm going to be knocking on the door. I'm going to play hard. I'm going to show you what I've got."

Tatis is the youngest Padre in camp this spring, but his arrival might have created the most buzz yet. A year ago, he set a franchise record with 21 home runs at Class A Fort Wayne. He made the jump to Double-A San Antonio at just 18 and held his own there, too.

Video: Tatis Jr. is named the top Padres prospect

It's no surprise, then, that Tatis has become a fan favorite -- a sign of hope as the Padres have reconstructed their roster. He says he's able to appreciate the support, without feeling the weight of expectations.

"That kind of stuff helps me to keep moving forward, keep working hard every day," Tatis said. "Those fans want me [in San Diego], so I'm going to play hard for them."

Ellis arrives

Newly signed catcher A.J. Ellis took part in his first workout Friday, going through defensive drills and catching two bullpen sessions.

It's been a whirlwind for Ellis, who was at home in Milwaukee when he agreed to a deal with the Padres earlier this week. A day later, he was on a flight to Arizona.

Tweet from @Padres: Newest Padre + newest Hall of Famer.#PadresST pic.twitter.com/3TsK0mvAzc

"Everything's happened really fast," Ellis said. "You didn't really know where you were going to be four to five days ago. Things came together quickly. ... But one thing I've learned the last couple years, bouncing around everywhere, is that baseball is similar everywhere."

Ellis will compete with Rocky Gale and Raffy Lopez for the backup job behind Austin Hedges in San Diego. He's the early favorite, too, given his wealth of experience that spans parts of 10 big league seasons.

With a young group of pitchers in camp, that experience will certainly prove valuable. That's part of what made Ellis so appealing to the Padres in the first place -- and the feeling is mutual.

"This is a team where the foundation has been laid," Ellis said. "It's going to be a winning franchise, and to be part of that development, be in on that ground floor, that was really exciting to me."

Ross turning heads early

In his first two bullpen sessions, Tyson Ross has impressed the Padres with the freeness in his delivery. The veteran right-hander missed the 2016 season after injuring his shoulder on Opening Day. He struggled with Texas last year, before signing a Minors deal with the Padres in the offseason.

Ross' first official 'pen session came Thursday and drew numerous positive reviews, including one from skipper Andy Green, who said his delivery "looks every bit as good" as his All-Star 2014 campaign.

"I always try not to read too much into the first couple bullpens," said Green. "But the way he's been throwing the ball, it's been tough not to be optimistic and excited about it."

Video: Andy Green addresses the media

News and notes

• The Padres claimed right-hander Rowan Wick off waivers from St. Louis on Friday. Wick, who converted from the outfield to the mound three seasons ago, posted a 3.19 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last season. He'll report to camp Saturday, filling out the club's 40-man roster.

Jose Pirela is the expected starter in left field, but Green noted the possibility that he takes reps at second base. With the departure of Yangervis Solarte, the Padres don't have many players on the roster with significant versatility. Pirela could provide that option.

• Shortstop Freddy Galvis played all 162 games in Philadelphia last season, and that durability could be an asset in the Padres' roster construction. Green noted that it's possible the Padres don't carry a conventional backup shortstop.

• Left fielder Alex Dickerson has fully recovered from June back surgery. But he'll be limited this spring, as the Padres bring him along slowly. Should Dickerson make the big league club, Green noted he likely wouldn't have an everyday role.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Fernando Tatis Jr.