PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — The San Diego Padres’ present got a lot better last week when they signed Manny Machado to play third base.
The future up the middle looks very bright as well, with Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias coming through the system.
Both were in the Padres’ lineup on Sunday when San Diego played the Chicago White Sox in spring training. Urias, batting second, went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts but made a sparkling play in the field to take an infield hit away from Ryan Goins. Tatis, in the fifth spot, was 0 for 1 with a walk, and scored on the second of Aderlin Rodriguez’s two-run homers in a 5-4 Padres victory.
“He’s unreal,” Urias said of Tatis. “He has a lot of energy and he brings a lot of that to the team. He can do it all.”
But Urias figures to come first. The 21-year-old from Mexico has been a second baseman since he signed with the Padres, but may open the season at shortstop with the veteran Ian Kinsler brought in to play second base this season for San Diego.
“I’m just starting to keep my routine,” Urias said. “I don’t know where I’m going to play short or second. I’ve been playing second base most of the time. I signed as a shortstop but I don’t mind playing either one.”
Soon, though, the 20-year-old Tatis will be joining him.
Tatis is the No. 2-ranked prospect in baseball according to MLB.com and Baseball America. His father was a third baseman in the majors and once hit two grand slams in one inning for the St. Louis Cardinals. Tatis Jr., at age 19, hit .286 with 16 homers at San Antonio, the Padres’ Double-A affiliate.
Urias is a highly touted prospect as well. He did make a brief appearance n the big leagues last year, batting .208 with a pair of homers in 48 at-bats before being sidelined with a hamstring injury, but he says he is ready to go.
For his career in the minors, he has hit .306 with a .397 on-base percentage.
“It’s just natural, since I was little,” Urias said of his selective strike zone. “I was kind of like the hitter who put the ball in play. I have been refining my approach every year, just trying to get better, but I know my type of game and I just want to get on base.
“We’re always improving something. I’m pretty excited to be back because i hurt my hamstring at the end of the year so I’m pretty happy right now because I’m healthy,” he said.
Manager Andy Green is anxious to see how well Machado can mesh with his young teammates — which could be a long-time combination for the Padres, given that Machado is only 26 and signed through 2028.
″A great player is going to raise everyone else’s level of expectation of quality of play,” Green said.