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Fernando Tatis Jr. is 21 (!) ... see his highlights

@AJCassavell
January 2, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- Fernando Tatis Jr. is already one of baseball's most exciting players -- and he’s only just turned 21. From the moment he arrived, Tatis made it clear that he’s a different type of ballplayer. He does things other players can’t -- he scores from first on singles,

SAN DIEGO -- Fernando Tatis Jr. is already one of baseball's most exciting players -- and he’s only just turned 21.

From the moment he arrived, Tatis made it clear that he’s a different type of ballplayer. He does things other players can’t -- he scores from first on singles, tags from third on infield popups and hits homers that seem like they might never land.

To celebrate Tatis' 21st birthday today, here are the 21 most dazzling moments from his incredible rookie year.

21. A glove and a cannon: What's more impressive here? Tatis’ smooth pick of Daniel Murphy's one-hop missile to shortstop? Or the ensuing 93.4 mph throw to first base, leaving no doubt.

20. Over the bullpen: Tatis' power is arguably his most overlooked tool. But he's got plenty of it -- as evidenced by this 440-foot blast, his longest at Petco Park last season.

19. First-to-home: When Eric Hosmer lifted a routine single to right-center field, Tatis -- who was on first base at the time -- never even broke stride. He scored from first base without the other team even attempting a tag.

18. Free RBIs: Ahh, the perks of hitting behind Tatis Facing the Cardinals in late June, Eric Hosmer bounced a chopper toward shortstop with Tatis on second base. Tatis didn't hesitate rounding third, and he cruised in safely when Paul Goldschmidt juggled the ball at first base.

17. The first of many: Tatis' first big league home run was a no-doubter. He destroyed a fastball from D-backs right-hander Merrill Kelly deep into the lower deck in front of the Western Metal Building.

16. A daytime moonshot: In his first trip to Wrigley Field, Tatis left a lasting impression. He demolished a 468-foot tater off Jose Quintana that nearly carried to the lower level of bleacher seats in straightaway center field.

15. Give him an inch...: As you may have noticed by now, Tatis has a habit of taking the extra base when it seems like he shouldn't. Facing the Giants, Tatis was on second base when Eric Hosmer bounced a chopper to the mound. When the ball caromed off Trevor Gott's glove, Tatis was home free.

14. Welcome to the big leagues, kid: Tatis wasted no time proving he belonged in the big leagues. Before his first game, he received a rousing ovation from fans at Petco Park who had long been dreaming of his arrival. He then pounded out hits in each of his first two at-bats -- against Madison Bumgarner, no less.

13. The moment you knew: Tatis was on the roster bubble when the Padres traveled to Scottsdale for a late Spring Training game. When Austin Hedges lined a routine single to center, Tatis scored from first base, and he made it look easy. To some in the organization, it was the moment they knew Tatis belonged.

12. Tatis' 180 grab: In the first of Tatis' truly spectacular defensive plays, the rookie shortstop changed direction twice as he backpedaled into left-center field. Then he reached up to rob Zack Greinke of a hit before tumbling onto the outfield grass.

11. Fielder's choice: Seriously, how many players could've scored on this routine chopper back to the mound from Eric Hosmer? Probably only one.

10. Tatis lays out: Combine Tatis' excellent instincts with his other-worldly athleticism, and these are the types of plays you get.

9. Laser show: A five-tool player in every sense of the phrase, Tatis owns a cannon at shortstop that might already be the best in the league. This 94-mph laser (after an excellent sliding stop, no less) was clocked as the fastest throw from a shortstop this season.

8. The infield-fly RBI, part two: What does it say about Tatis' daring baserunning that there are two plays on this list in which he tagged and scored on a popup to second base. This play against the Giants falls to eighth because, well, it wasn't the first time he’d done it. And the degree of difficulty was lower, with Giants second baseman Joe Panik backpedaling into right field.

7. Like father, like son: Fernando Tatis Sr. is best known as the only player in baseball history to hit two grand slams in the same inning. Tatis Jr. couldn't quite match that feat. But in the finale of his first series in L.A., the younger Tatis became the youngest player ever with a multi-homer game at Dodger Stadium.

6. A bat flip for the ages: Tatis is still waiting for his first walk-off homer in the big leagues. If his reactionary bat flip when that happens is anything like his walk-off homer for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League last January, it'll be epic.

5. He got knocked down, and he got up again: Giants starter Shaun Anderson came high and tight on Tatis, prompting a vitriolic response from a packed Petco Park. No matter. Tatis got his revenge on the next pitch. He smashed a hanging slider into the right-center-field beach area. "If you're playing this game, you're not supposed to have any fear," Tatis would later say.

4. Rally starter, rally finisher: Facing the Rockies in mid-June, the Padres pulled off one of the most miraculous comebacks in franchise history, scoring six times in the ninth inning to tie the game (before winning in the 12th). Tatis started the rally with an opposite-field single, then he capped the rally with a 116-mph rocket into center field, which scored two runs.

3. Jumpman Tatis: If there's an image that has come to define Tatis' rookie season, it's this one. His spectacular leaping grab to rob Jesus Aguilar gets better with every angle.

2. The infield-fly RBI, part one: Just look at the audacity of this play. Hunter Renfroe hits a routine popup to Pirates second baseman Kevin Newman -- who even looks at Tatis immediately. Tatis takes off anyway and executes a perfect head-first dive as he stretches his left hand across home plate. He was initially ruled out, but the call was overturned after a review.

1. Tag him if you can: For all of Tatis' elite skills, his baserunning instincts are probably the most exciting. How many other players could have escaped a routine rundown merely by sliding? Tatis had been picked off by Braves right-hander Mike Soroka -- only to evade Soroka's tag with a Matrix-esque slide that needs to be seen to be believed.

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