Expectations for Padres top prospectFernando Tatis Jr. were set long before he reported to Spring Training. If he was hoping to make an indelible impression on the Friars' decision-makers during his time in big league camp, it's fair to say he's already succeeded -- even with three weeks to go.
Tatis is only 19, but having been labeled by MLB Pipeline as the No. 8 prospect in all of baseball, he has generated his share of attention. And he added to his allure on Sunday, going 4-for-4 with five RBIs as the starting shortstop in a split-squad game at the White Sox.
Tatis, who logged a double and stole a base, increased his spring average to .381 and his OPS to 1.125.
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Not bad for a kid ticketed for some more Minor League seasoning when the 2018 regular season arrives.
"It's felt great, man," Tatis said after Sunday's big game, one the Padres won, 7-6. "I've been working hard, been working every day with my hitting coach. It's paying off right now. They've been telling me to stay more consistent, be a little more quiet with my swing, staying through the ball. Same swing, just more control."
Tatis, the son of former 11-year Major Leaguer Fernando Tatis, was acquired by the Padres in June 2016 as part of the James Shields trade. Last year, the shortstop became the first 18-year-old in Midwest League history to post at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases.
He's viewed as a future power hitter, with a rocket arm at short. He's also shown plate discipline unusual for a player his age, having led the Midwest League last year with 75 walks.
Being in big league camp can help boost a young player's confidence, even if he doesn't have a realistic shot to crack the Opening Day 25-man roster. Simply facing a higher level of competition can provide a welcomed test -- a test Tatis, so far, is acing.
"It's obviously a little bit better over here," Tatis said. "The pitchers have more control. It's close to the same, just a lot more control."
What can a little early success do for a kid's confidence?
"It helps me a lot, knowing I can hit no matter where I'm at," Tatis said.