Padres' 'niños' dazzle on defense
Urias, Tatis Jr. provide highlight plays vs. Rockies
SAN DIEGO -- As the youngest Padres on the roster and two of the sport’s most exciting young infielders, Luis Urías and Fernando Tatis Jr. like to call themselves "los niños" -- or "the kids."
The kids are growing up so fast.
Suddenly, the Padres’ long-awaited middle infield of the future is their middle infield of the present. The hype, it seems, was justified.
Tatis and Urias -- the team’s Nos. 1 and 3 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline -- put their dazzling defensive talents on display in a 5-2 loss to the Rockies on Monday night. Urias made an absurd jump-tag in the first inning, and Tatis might have topped him with a diving stop in the fourth.
“To be the greatest second baseman [I can be], I need a shortstop who can help me,” Urias said. “Maybe he needs the same, a great second baseman to help him.”
Tatis is 20. Urias is 21. They both rank among the top 25 prospects in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline, and they're expected to anchor the Padres' infield for a long time.
“Now that we're both here, it's amazing to play together,” Tatis said.
Urias' tag play came in the top of the first inning after Garrett Hampson reached base on a single. Hampson took off for second, and catcher Austin Hedges' throw sailed high. Urias grabbed the ball out of midair and leapt to avoid Hampson while tagging him on the helmet at the same time.
“That was pretty cool,” Urias said. “I knew it right away when I put my hand down, I knew that I had him.”
Three innings later, Tatis did his part. Trevor Story hit a grounder in the hole between shortstop and third base. Tatis made a sliding stop, rose to his feet and fired a rocket to first base. Story was out by a step.
Tatis started an impressive double play later in the inning, and he added two hits as well, giving him eight in his last five games including two homers. With his 2-for-4 night, he boosted his OPS to .936 this season.
Urias, meanwhile, has struggled at the plate, going 2-for-19 since his callup one week ago. But he feels as though he’s poised to break out of the slump. He went 0-for-3 on Monday, but he hit a laser that was snared by Hampson at second base in the seventh. In the ninth, Urias worked a walk against closer Wade Davis.
“I've been feeling pretty good at the plate, just trying to be myself,” Urias said. “Right now, I don't have the results that I want. But I'm trying to be patient, and, hopefully, that will come.”
No matter what they're doing at the plate, clearly "los niños" can flash the leather.