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Top Prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. Reportedly Makes Padres' Opening Day Roster

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMarch 27, 2019

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - MARCH 18: Fernando Tatis Jr #84 of the San Diego Padres follows through on a swing against the Cleveland Indians during a spring training game at Goodyear Ballpark on March 18, 2019 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Norm Hall/Getty Images

San Diego Padres minor leaguer Fernando Tatis Jr., who is ranked second on MLB Pipeline's top-100 prospect list, will reportedly get an Opening Day call to the bigs.

Dennis Lin of The Athletic reported the news on the 20-year-old shortstop, who had 16 home runs, 43 RBI and a .286/.355/.507 slash line for the Double-A San Antonio Missions last season.

Tatis has smacked two home runs and slashed .241/.317/.444 in 54 spring training at-bats.

It's a pleasant surprise that the Padres opted against using the service-time rule to their advantage. The Padres could have held Tatis in the minors long enough for him to be unable to accrue a year of service in the majors, which would have delayed his free agency for an extra year down the road. MLB.com provides more details on the service-time stipulation:

"A player is deemed to have reached 'one year' of Major League service upon accruing 172 days in a given year. Upon reaching six years of Major League service, a player becomes eligible for free agency at the end of that season (unless he has already signed a contract extension that covers one or more of his free-agent seasons)."

With Tatis reportedly starting on Opening Day, the clock starts now on his big league career.

Kevin Acee of San Diego Union-Tribune explained the Friars' rationale behind making the move:

Kevin Acee @sdutKevinAcee

Fernando Tatis Jr. has made the team. #Padres believe he's ready and makes them the best possible team.

And Kyle Glaser of Baseball America noted how fervent the Padres have been in advancing their prospects through the minors:

Kyle Glaser @KyleAGlaser

Padres have been very aggressive moving guys through the minors (they had many of the youngest players at each level) and now that is transitioning to the majors. Tatis and Paddack both skipping over Triple-A, had less than a full season at Double-A

Who can really blame the Padres for bringing up a player capable of doing this on a baseball field?

MLB @MLB

.@tatis_jr really just scored from first on a single to center... #BeGreater https://t.co/b3h2e0x3Eo

MLB.com reporter/editor Sarah Langs explained that Tatis is the youngest player to be on an Opening Day roster in 20 years, or the vast majority of the new Padres shortstop's life:

Sarah Langs @SlangsOnSports

Fernando Tatis Jr. will be 20 years, 85 days old on Opening Day. The last player that young to play on Opening Day was Adrian Beltre in 1999, at age 19 years, 363 days old. Tatis was born in January 1999.

Tatis figures to start at shortstop alongside new third baseman Manny Machado, the four-time All-Star who signed a 10-year deal with San Diego in the offseason.

Those two could potentially lead San Diego to its first World Series since 1998. That time doesn't figure to be 2019, but the Padres have seven of MLB Pipeline's top 50 prospects. That list includes pitcher Chris Paddack, who also made the Opening Day roster.

Down the road, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Machado and that group lead the Padres to their first championship in franchise history.

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