WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fernando Tatis, Jr. is one of the brightest future stars in the game. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball, one spot behind Eloy Jimenez.
He’s a five-tool shortstop slashing .289/.359/.509 at Double-A San Antonio with 15 home runs, 42 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 85 games. He’s bilingual, charismatic, the kind of guy who could be a face of a franchise.
And two years ago, he was property of the White Sox.
That was until they traded Tatis, who was only 17 at the time, to the Padres for James Shields. Tatis had yet to play a single game in the White Sox farm system, so it was tough to predict his future. However, speaking with Tatis before he competed in the MLB Futures Game on Sunday, the trade was definitely a shock to him.
“I was surprised. It was weird. For a kid that young to get traded, I had never heard of it. When they told me that, I couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘What’s going on?’” Tatis said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.
No front office is going to bat 1.000, and when it comes to Tatis, this is a trade the White Sox would love to have back.
But first, more perspective.
In June of 2016, six months before the White Sox started their rebuild, they were 29-26, a game and a half out of first place. With Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and a healthy Carlos Rodon anchoring their rotation, they felt that with the addition of Shields, they could compete for the division.
Unfortunately, perception didn’t meet reality. Shields struggled on the mound with the White Sox in 2016 and 2017. His numbers have improved considerably, and he could return the White Sox another prospect if he’s dealt before the trade deadline. However, it’s unlikely they’ll receive a player with the potential that Tatis has right now.
“(The trade) was about getting a good starter so they could get to the playoffs. I understood. I know this game is a business,” Tatis said.
Before the trade occurred, Tatis looked into his future and saw a day when he’d be the White Sox starting shortstop.
“Yeah, that was my goal when (White Sox director of international scouting) Marco Paddy signed me,” Tatis said. “We talked about it when I started and that was the goal.”
His goal now is to make it to the major leagues with the Padres.
“I’m pretty close. I want to keep working. When they decide to call me up, I’ll be ready.”
As for his former team, he’s impressed with the talent the White Sox have assembled.
“They’re building something special. They have really good prospects. I wish the best for them.”
You can’t help but wonder what the rebuild would look like if Tatis was along for the ride. He’s the one who got away.