TinCaps' Tatis Jr. taking after his father

Padres No. 5 prospect smacks first slam on two-homer night

Fernando Tatis Jr. is averaging a home run for every six games played this year. (Andrew Woolley/AP)

By Michael Leboff / MiLB.com | July 13, 2017 12:23 AM

On April 23, 1999, Fernando Tatis made history by becoming the first player in Major League history to hit two grand slams in one inning.

On Wednesday night, son Fernando Tatis Jr. showed the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. 

San Diego's No. 5 prospect belted his first career grand slam and a solo shot to lead Class A Fort Wayne over Burlington, 8-1, in a rain-shortened game at Community Field. He plated a career-high five runs.

"Everyone is aware of what his dad did with the two grand slams," Fort Wayne hitting coach Doug Banks said. "But nothing surprises me with Fernando. Not only does he have the background, but he is very intelligent and has the ability to take what the coaches and his father give him and apply it to the game."

Gameday box score

Tatis Jr. got the TinCaps on the board in the first inning The 18-year-old worked the count full against Burlington starter Andrew Vinson (5-8) and then jumped all over a cutter and sent it out to left-center field. Tatis Jr. was retired in his next two appearances but battled to a full count and saw six pitches in each trip. 

"Lately, working deep into counts has been his m.o.," Banks said. "He's laying off tough pitches and being aggressive in the zone. He's done a great job of having a disciplined approach and has turned a corner in that regard over the past month or two."

With the bases loaded in the seventh, Tatis Jr. worked the count full against Ronnie Glenn. After fouling off the first payoff pitch, MLB.com's No. 100 overall prospect turned on a fastball and drove it out in left for his team-leading 15th homer of the year. 

"I was really excited with how he worked that at-bat," Banks said. "He didn't get too big in the situation and go chasing outside of the zone. That's kind of an organizational philosophy to be aggressive in the zone and Fernando did a great job in that at-bat."

In 85 games this season, Tatis Jr. has produced a .279/.375/.511 slash line. In addition to leading the Midwest League in games played, the Dominican Republic native ranks in the top 10 on the circuit in walks (45), OPS (.886), slugging percentage (.511), stolen bases (20) and total bases (161). 

In the middle of his first full season, Tatis Jr. is showing no signs of slowing down. The 6-foot-3 shortstop is hitting .424 with 12 extra-base hits and 12 RBIs over his last 10 contests. 

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"He came in with a lot of expectations but, to do what he's doing this year at just 18 years old, shows that he's on his way to being a five-tool player," Banks added. "It's fun to watch a kid with the type of makeup he has put it all together. He's a strong kid and shows up to play every day and is smart in the way he goes about his business, which is why he's up there in games played in the Midwest League.

"Fernando has the ability not to get beat, even by a good pitch. When he's not right, he's the one getting himself out. And when he's on, there's not a pitcher in this league who can really get the better of him."

Padres seventh-ranked prospect Jorge Ona hit his eighth homer of the season and No. 27 Buddy Reed went 3-for-3 with two doubles and scored twice. 

Rain forced the game to be called with one out in the bottom of the seventh. 

Michael Leboff is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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