Fernando Tatis Jr. won’t be eligible to return to the San Diego Padres until next Thursday, April 20th, as he finishes up an 80-game suspension for testing positive for the banned performance-enhancing substance Clostebol last August. MLB rules permit the superstar to begin playing in Minor League games in advance of that date, though, and from the look of it, Tatis Jr. is in midseason form.
Fernando Tatis Jr. is ready for the @Padres.— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) April 14, 2023
The outfielder walloped three homers as part of a record-tying five-hit, eight-RBI night for the @epchihuahuas: https://t.co/s3sqtDooEH pic.twitter.com/KoEUPBbX9j
Three homers, five hits and eight RBI for the All-Star, who hasn’t appeared in a Major League game since 2021 due to both injury and suspension. Tatis Jr. has now played in six games for the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas, and his numbers look like something out of a video game: .478/.586/1.087 slash line, four homers, 11 RBI, two steals. (These are actually his first career appearances at Triple-A, as he jumped straight from Double-A to the Majors back in 2019.)
In case you somehow forgot, let this serve as a reminder of just how game-changing a talent Tatis Jr. is when he’s on the field. In 2021, he led the National League with 42 homers while adding 25 steals, 97 RBI and a .282 average — all in only 130 games. Despite all the young talent in MLB right now, there still might not be a more dangerous combination of power and speed than the former top-10 prospect.
The Padres have already committed to batting Tatis Jr. in the leadoff spot when he returns from his suspension, which will only help his counting stats. The team also signed Xander Bogaerts this offseason as part of a plan to play the former shortstop almost exclusively in right field, in an effort to keep him healthy and avoid reaggravating the injury to his left shoulder that’s hampered him for much of the past two years. For fantasy owners who drafted Tatis Jr. knowing that they’d have to stash him for at least the first few weeks of the season, well, Merry Christmas.