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Padres get payoff from promoting prospects

Tatis Jr., Paddack have produced in early weeks of season
@AJCassavell
April 11, 2019

PHOENIX -- If service-time considerations reigned, it's entirely possible that Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack -- two of the young season's most exciting rookies -- would still be Minor Leaguers. Had the Padres waited until Friday to promote Paddack and Tatis, their earliest possible free agency would have been

PHOENIX -- If service-time considerations reigned, it's entirely possible that Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack -- two of the young season's most exciting rookies -- would still be Minor Leaguers.

Had the Padres waited until Friday to promote Paddack and Tatis, their earliest possible free agency would have been pushed to 2025 instead of '24. But general manager A.J. Preller spurned that possibility last month by adding both to the Opening Day roster.

As a result, Tatis and Paddack -- ranked No. 2 and 32 on MLB Pipeline's top 100 prospects list -- have played an integral role in the Padres' hot start. Was their presence worth it? Within the San Diego clubhouse, the answer is a unanimous "yes."

Tatis owns a .789 OPS, and he has played a solid defensive shortstop. Paddack has a 1.04 ERA in two starts. To the club, their impact stretches beyond those numbers.

"Ownership and A.J.’s willingness to just put the best players on this team -- it’s really helped shape the culture of the team," said Padres manager Andy Green. "It's, ‘Let's go, now. Let’s win baseball games, because nothing's being held back.’ That's meant a lot to create confidence in everybody."

Said Tatis: "I want to thank them every day for this opportunity. And every day, I try to demonstrate I can do the job. ... We're off to a good start. I think I'm off to an OK start. It's not my best. I know I have more to show."

From a bWAR perspective, Tatis and Paddack have been worth 0.9 wins between them. But here's a look at their real-life contributions to six Padres wins:

March 28: Padres 2, Giants 0
Tatis got things started on Opening Day with hits in his first two at-bats against Madison Bumgarner -- a single through the left side in the second and a bunt single in the fourth. He didn't score either time, but suffice it to say, he put pressure on the Giants' ace.

March 29: Padres 4, Giants 1
Tatis lifted a rocket double off the center-field wall in the second inning, sparking a two-run inning that gave the Padres an early lead.

March 31: Padres 3, Giants 1
Paddack retired the first 10 hitters he faced and was excellent over five innings of one-run ball. That included a brilliant defensive play at short by Tatis, who made a sliding stop in the top of the third. Paddack left with the game tied, and the Padres won it late.

April 5: Padres 5, Cardinals 3
The Padres had a one-run lead in the seventh when Tatis broke the game open with a two-run homer into the left-field seats. The home run in the Cardinals' home opener was particularly special for Tatis, whose father spent three seasons in St. Louis.

April 6: Padres 6, Cardinals 4
Paddack wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in his debut. But he still held the Cardinals in check, allowing an unearned run over 3 2/3 innings. The Padres' offense again won the game late with help from Tatis who was 1-for-3 with a double and two walks. Tatis' leadoff walk in the eighth inning sparked a four-run rally; the Padres entered the frame trailing by one.

April 8: Padres 6, Giants 5
The Padres trailed 5-0 when Tatis took Bumgarner deep, starting a furious comeback. Tatis reached base three times in the game, and he scored the first run in the Padres' decisive three-run seventh inning.

Summary
Without Paddack and/or Tatis, the Padres probably would have won some of those games. They might have won all of them. Still, it's clear the two rookies aren't overmatched in the big leagues, and they've played an important part in San Diego's hot start.

Noteworthy

Franchy Cordero had an MRI on his ailing right elbow. It revealed a stress reaction, which Green indicated would keep the outfielder out for a significant period. Cordero, who landed on the injured list on Monday, will be re-evaluated later this month. There's no immediate timetable for his return.

"It's disappointing," Green said. "He was playing very, very well. ... Now it just depends on how quickly he heals."

• Green brushed off the notion that the Padres would carry six starting pitchers for an extended time this season. They promoted righty Pedro Avila to start Thursday and optioned lefty Robbie Erlin to Single-A Lake Elsinore to clear space. But the current six-man rotation won't last long. It's merely a product of the team's stretch of 12 games in 12 days.

Wil Myers received his first start as leadoff man on Thursday. Entering play, Padres leadoff men had combined for a .478 OPS this season, which ranks 29th in the Majors. Only the Reds own a worse mark.

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