Fernando Tatís Jr.: el talento que dejaron ir los Medias Blancas

Las granjas de los Medias Blancas de Chicago son de las más fértiles en las Grandes Ligas. Gracias a las propiedades en sus categorías inferiores, desarrollaron el talento de Yoán Moncada, Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal y otros que están por llegar. Pero esa lista pudo tener otro nombre. Y uno importante: Fernando Tatís Jr.

Sí, el colíder en cuadrangulares de la temporada 2020, pelotero sensación, potencial candidato anual al premio Jugador Más Valioso de la Liga Nacional y posiblemente ícono de Major League Baseball (MLB) por más de una década, pudo ser el campocorto de los Medias Blancas. Pero no. La gerencia patiblanca lo cambió por James Shields en 2016.

En esa oportunidad, Tatís estaba lejos de ser la figura de la actualidad. Solo tenía 17 años de edad, habían pasado menos de 365 días desde que se convirtió en profesional y todavía no había disputado un encuentro para la organización. Por eso, fue el principal sorprendido cuando lo cambiaron.

“Me tomó por sorpresa. Fue algo muy extraño. Para alguien tan joven ser cambiado, nunca había escuchado que pasara antes. Cuando me lo dijeron, no podía creerlo”, aseguró a NBC Sports Fernando Tatís Jr., quien recibió 700.000 dólares como bono por firmar. “Para mí era algo como: ‘¿Qué está pasando?’”.

Lo que pasaba era más sencillo de explicar para los Medias Blancas en aquella época. Estaban de lleno en la carrera por un puesto para la postemporada y su rotación tenía a figuras como Chris Sale junto a José Quintana. Añadir a un veterano como Shields, ganador 127 juegos y una efectividad de 3.74 en sus primeros 10 años en las mayores, sería un refuerzo importante. De esos que se convierten en el impulso para llegar a octubre, por lo que no estaba mal ceder a un adolescente.

El alto mando aceptó la propuesta que hicieron los Padres. Recibieron al lanzador de 34 años de edad y mandaron a Erik Johnson junto a Fernando Tatís Jr. a San Diego. Cuatro años después, ese movimiento persigue a los aficionados como una pesadilla.

James Shelds llegó a los Medias Blancas por Fernando Tatís Jr.
James Shields no cumplió con las expectativas en Chicago / Jon Durr/Getty Images/AFP

Shields, con el uniforme de los Medias Blancas, ganó 16 juegos y perdió 35. Su efectividad fue de 5.31 y el equipo le pagó 27 millones de dólares durante ese proceso. Los Padres, en cambio, recibieron al que será su campocorto y cara de la franquicia por mucho tiempo por un precio módico. En 2019, Fernando Tatís Jr. cobró 555.000 dólares y en 2020 recibirá mucho menos: 219.185 dólares.

“El cambio fue para recibir un buen lanzador y así pudieran llegar a postemporada. Eso lo entiendo. Sé que este juego es un negocio”, continuó Tatís Jr.

¿Qué pensaban los scouts de Fernando Tatís Jr. en 2016?

Es fácil criticar la decisión de una gerencia ya conociendo el resultado. Los Medias Blancas de Chicago no llegaron a playoffs en 2016, James Shields bajó el nivel desde que se colocó el uniforme patiblanco y Fernando Tatís Jr. emergió como una superestrella años después. Sin embargo, ¿ese año lo proyectaban en lo que se convirtió?

MLB decía en su reporte: “Los cazatalentos les gusta el swing, la fuerza en su brazo y su fluidez en la defensa. La capacidad para golpear con fuerza la pelota y la continuidad con la que lo hace, también sorprende a los evaluadores”. Nada rimbombante, por lo que colocaron al dominicano como el trigésimo mejor prospecto a nivel internacional, detrás de Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Juan Soto, Andrés Giménez y otros 26 jugadores que no han llegado a las Grandes Ligas.

Jeff Buchanan, respetado analista de los prospectos de los Medias Blancas, escribió en FutureSox sobre Fernando Tatis Jr.: “Claramente no tiene el mismo potencial de Franklin Reyes pero su conjunto completo de habilidades, su alto coeficiente intelectual de béisbol y su mentalidad profesional significan que probablemente corre menos riesgos que Reyes. Fernando Tatís Jr. es una mejor apuesta para maximizar su potencial como posible jugador de todos los días”.

Reyes, un poderoso inicialista, dejó la organización de Chicago en 2017 y ningún motor de búsqueda estadístico tiene registros de una participación en el beisbol profesional desde entonces.

Quizás la directiva en 2016 terminó influenciada por los reportes que recibían de un adolescente en formación. O quizás, la necesidad de llegar a postemporada nubló la visión de muchos. “Desde el principio me imaginé ese momento en el que me convertía en el campocorto titular de los Medias Blancas. Siempre lo conversé con Marco Paddy (scout internacional de los Medias Blancas)”, recordó el talentoso torpedero.

Todo gerente general tiene un cambio que le gustaría no haber hecho. Rick Hahn, mandamás en las oficinas de los Medias Blancas, tiene claro cuál sería el suyo. “Fui un idiota. Probablemente ese fue el último cambio que hice con una mentalidad a corto plazo. Todavía siento escalofríos cuando veo los videos con las jugadas de Tatís”, cerró el todavía directivo en Chicago.

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