Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., the No. 1 overall prospect in baseball according to ESPN's Keith Law, has made the San Diego Padres' Opening Day roster, his father told The Associated Press on Tuesday night.
Fernando Tatis, who played parts of 11 seasons in the big leagues, said his son called him Tuesday to inform him of the Padres' decision.
"He's very happy about it," Tatis said. "He was very excited. I'm very happy."
The senior Tatis said his son called after the Padres' preseason game in Seattle. While the Padres were flying back to San Diego, the senior Tatis was making arrangements for him and the rest of the family to travel to San Diego for Opening Day on Thursday against the San Francisco Giants.
"We've got to be there for his first game," he said.
The Athletic first reported that Tatis Jr. had made the Opening Day roster. Team officials didn't respond to requests for comment.
By beginning the year in the majors, Tatis Jr. will get an early jump toward free agency. A player needs six years of service time to be eligible for free agency. Teams often keep their top prospects in the minor leagues for at least 15 days to keep them under contractual control for an extra year, but the Padres have said that prospects will make their big league debuts on merit alone, and Tatis Jr. showed his skills during spring training.
He hit .265 with two homers and four RBIs this spring. He hit .286 with 16 homers and 43 RBIs and tallied 16 stolen bases at Double-A San Antonio last season, the highest level he had played in the minors.
Tatis Jr. will be 20 years and 85 days old on Thursday, making him the youngest player in Padres history to start on Opening Day and the youngest position player in MLB to do so since Adrian Beltre, who was 19 years, 363 days old when he started at third base for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1999.
Padres fans have already been buoyed by the signing of Manny Machado to a $300 million, 10-year contract, and now the younger Tatis will be playing next to him.
"It's awesome for him," the senior Tatis said. "It's going to be great because playing right next to Manny is going to be a big help for him. I believe it's going to be a great combination, third and short. I don't think many balls are going to go through third base and shortstop because of their range. The left side of the infield is going to be amazing."
Tatis was obtained from the Chicago White Sox for right-hander James Shields on June 4, 2016, as part of general manager A.J. Preller's rebuild after a win-now attempt with high-priced veterans in 2015 failed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.