Tatis continues tear in Missions' romp

Top Padres prospect registers second career four-hit game

Fernando Tatis Jr. is hitting .350 with 37 runs scored in 34 games since the end of April. (Tammy Tucker/MiLB.com)

By Vincent Lara-Cinisomo / MiLB.com | June 6, 2018 11:58 PM

For Fernando Tatis Jr., April must seem more like five years ago than five weeks ago.

The Padres' top prospect recorded his second career four-hit game on Wednesday to back the pitching of Logan Allen and Erik Johnson as Double-A San Antonio cruised past Midland, 10-0, at Nelson Wolff Stadium.

Video: San Antonio's Tatis clears the bases for fourth hit

The son of the former big league infielder, Tatis drove in three runs and scored three times in his four-hit effort since since Sept. 2. At that time, he was two weeks into his first Texas League stint.

MLB.com's No. 6 overall prospect already had turned things around this season. After hitting .177/.231/.333 in April, he posted a .336/.414/ .639 slash line in May. This month started a bit slowly with two hits in nine at-bats, but he had two knocks Tuesday before Wednesday's big night.

Gameday box score

Missions hitting coach Raul Padron said the big difference has been Tatis' approach.

"Well, in a big, big way, he's just changed his approach against pitchers," Padron said. "He's stayed quiet at the plate and he's just trying to wait to get the pitch to hit."

Hitting leadoff -- where he's spent most of the year and posted a .970 OPS -- the 19-year-old struck out in the first inning against Jesus Luzardo, the A's No. 2 prospect.

Padron acknowledged the move to the leadoff spot jump-started Tatis.

"[Hitting leadoff] definitely helps him a lot," he said. "It takes a lot of pressure off his shoulders. Hitting third was big for him, but hitting leadoff, it doesn't mean he's seeing better pitches, but he doesn't have that pressure. So now if we put him back hitting third he should be OK."

The native of the Dominican Republic turned it on after the first, beating out a grounder to shortstop in the third, ripping a single to left field in the sixth, going the other way for another single in the seventh and clearing the bases with a three-run double to right in the eighth.

Tatis is tied for eighth in the Minor Leagues with 30 extra-base hits, but Padron said he expects the teenager will be more than a one-note hitter.

"He'll hit for power and average," he continued. "What he's doing at the plate -- the Texas League has tough fields to hit in with the wind blowing in most of the time -- it's not an issue for him. He's crushing the ball right now and with his tools, I think he'll hit for power and average.

"Definitely being able to recognize pitchers [will be the next improvement]. At the plate, guys are throwing him breaking balls and he's saying, 'No way I'm going to swing at that.' He doesn't get many fastballs, so he needs to learn to be selective and still be aggressive."

Tatis has basically neutral splits, meaning he handles left-handed pitchers as well as righties. Padron chalks that up to Tatis not trying to pull everything.

"Pretty much his approach is to stay up the middle," the hitting coach said. "When a hitter goes up to the plate and just tries to stay in the middle and not chase out of the zone, they can handle lefties and righties."

Tatis' outburst gave Allen (8-2) all the support he needed. Six days after combining with Jason Jester on a no-hitter, the Padres' No. 8 prospect allowed four hits over seven innings -- the fourth time he's reached that plateau this season. He struck out four and walked one.

Allen leads the Texas League in wins and ranks second behind Frisco's Richelson Pena with a 2.93 ERA. Johnson worked the final two innings as the Missions posted their league-leading seventh shutout.

MiLB include

Luzardo (2-3) took the loss, despite yielding a run on three hits over five innings. He fanned eight, walked none and lowered his ERA to 4.30.

Tatis got plenty of help offensively as No. 14 prospect Josh Naylor singled twice and drove in a run, Ty France contributed two hits and three RBIs and Matthew Batten singled four times and plated two runs.

Some scouts believe Tatis, who is 6-foot-3 at 19 and still growing, will eventually be too big to play shortstop. But Padron said he's not sure.

"With that kid, honestly, it's hard to tell," he said. "He's moving so well -- definitely his body will grow -- but he's able to move so well that he can probably make it as a shortstop and maybe move to third in a couple more years."

Vince Lara-Cinisomo is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @vincelara. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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