Fernando Tatis Jr.’s left shoulder was supposed to be the body part of concern for the superstar entering this season. Instead, it’s Tatis’ left wrist that will have him out for at least the first two months of the regular season.
Tatis underwent surgery March 16 to repair a fractured scaphoid bone. It’s an injury that Tatis suffered during the offseason, but the cause is unclear. Tatis said he felt some pain in his wrist as he began to ramp up in February for the season ahead. The clear severity wasn’t discovered until Tatis took his physical upon arriving for Spring Training.
On the day Tatis had his surgery, San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller estimated that Tatis would be sidelined for three months. We haven’t heard any updates on his health since that day, but that would put him on track to return in mid-June. That means he will probably miss the season’s first 60 games, at least.
In the meantime, the Padres will likely fill their hole at shortstop with Ha-Seong Kim. He hit .202 with a .622 OPS across 267 at-bats last season, his first at the MLB level after playing seven in Korea.
The more intriguing Tatis replacement is C.J. Abrams, San Diego’s No. 1 prospect and No. 6 in all of Major League Baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. He recorded a .296/.363/.420 slash line in 42 games at Double-A last year before his season was cut short by a knee injury. However, Abrams has looked no worse for wear during Spring Training as he owns a .324/.361/.529 slash line through April 4. Abrams doesn’t possess a ton of power, but he has elite speed, fantastic bat-to-ball skills and makes hard contact consistently.
Abrams has a .343 average and only 50 strikeouts through 312 at-bats in the Minor Leagues. He’s also gone 28-for-36 in stolen bases. Better yet for the Padres, that speed gives Abrams the range needed to play shortstop, and he has the arm strength to make every throw.
It’s not yet certain that Abrams will be on the Padres’ Opening Day roster, but he’s earned such a spot this spring. Kim has had a stellar preseason as well (.909 OPS through 12 games), but Abrams offers more speed, better defense and a more potent bat.
San Diego might decide to cover the loss of their 23-year-old current star shortstop by using their 21-year-old future star shortstop. In that case, the future will be the present for Abrams, who should excite Padres fans and fantasy managers alike.