Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Padres' Tatis Jr. Born to Play in Majors

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Padres' Tatis Jr. Born to Play in Majors

Article excerpt

Byline: The Associated Press

PEORIA, Ariz. -- There's no question Fernando Tatis Jr.'s birthright is to play major league baseball.

Having just turned 19, the phenom is in his first big league camp with the San Diego Padres. He's one of baseball's top prospects, is the son of a former major leaguer and, until Eric Hosmer signed as a free agent, was probably the one player in the organization that fans of the downtrodden Padres were most eager to see.

If the shortstop plays as well as he did last year in making the jump from low Class A to Double-A, he could get his first call-up, perhaps in September.

Why is he so good, so young?

"This kid was born in the big leagues," his father said from San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, which often is referred to as "The Cradle of Shortstops."

Tatis Jr. was born on Jan. 2, 1999, just before his dad's third big league season. Fernando Tatis' 11-year big league career ended just eight years ago.

"I was already there playing for the Cardinals," the elder Tatis said. "As soon as he opened his eyes, everything he watched was big league baseball."

Fittingly, Tatis Jr. is the face of the Padres' rebuild around young players. He was obtained as the team scrapped its failed win-now attempt with high-priced veterans, coming over from the White Sox in the deal that sent James Shields to Chicago in June 2016.

Tatis Jr. said he talks with his father by phone every day.

The senior Tatis will visit his son in spring training soon. Tatis Jr. hit an impressive opposite-field home run in his second Cactus League at-bat and has been making nice plays at shortstop.

"He's happy for me, man," said Tatis Jr., the youngest player in any big league camp. "He brought me into this game since I was a kid and now here we are, since a young age and doing stuff and playing the good baseball."

Tatis recalls being a clubhouse kid.

"I remember my dad was taking me to the field. It was fun. It was great. It was a thing that I love and that was the first love that I brought to this game."

Padres general manager A.J. Preller was with the Texas Rangers when he first saw Tatis Jr. …

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