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Countdown to 3: Donavan Tate

May 4th, 2009 by Ray

With the Padres possessing the third overall pick in this year’s MLB First-Year draft, we at the Sacrifice Bunt will be going through some of the different players that might be available once San Diego goes on the clock.

This counts Stephen Strasburg out. Sorry.

Leading up to draft day, we’ll help you get better acquainted with the various prospects, starting right now with Donavan Tate.

Biography

The 6’3″, 200 lb. Tate, who’s not to be confused with the actor Tate Donovan, is the son of former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Lars Tate. A two-sport star, Tate has actually committed to playing football at the University of North Carolina, after being courted by such programs as USC, Michigan, and Alabama. If he enrolls, Tate will have his eye on joining the school’s baseball team as well.

Currently a quarterback, it’s unclear where Tate will play on the baseball field if he suits up for UNC.

Scouting Data

Tate is a five-tool outfielder, and might be the toolsiest player in this year’s draft. During his football tryouts, Tate was clocked running a 4.4 40 and benched 300 lbs. On the diamond, his arm’s been clocked at 95 mph. And for good measure, he could probably sell a mean pair of jeans.

He’s received comparisons to the other Chris Young, hopefully meaning that he’s a center fielder with range and power, and not that he’s a hack machine.

He’s still in high school though, which means that many of his tools are very raw; it’s still unclear how he’s going to hit in the bigs. And with UNC waiting for him, his agent will no doubt use that in negotiations, making him a harder sign.

P.S. His agent is Scott Boras.

Performance Data

As Tate is still in high school, I have no idea where to start looking for his stats. If you do, please drop a link in the comment section. Thanks.

Where does Tate fit in the organization?

Tate is a legit centerfield prospect, which is something the team doesn’t really have. The current centerfielder of the future is Cedric Hunter, and many question whether or not he’ll be able to stick out there. Other centerfielders in the system include Jaff Decker, who’s currently playing left field for Ft. Wayne, and Will Venable, who lacks great speed.

There are questions surrounding Tate, but they don’t have to do with his defense.

He would also be a break from the drafting habits of the past couple of years. The Padres haven’t taken many high school players at the top of the draft, with Decker being one exception. To give you an idea of what this can mean, here’s an excerpt from an interview Mad Friars had with Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus:

Mad Friars: For an organization that has drafted heavily in college players, how do you explain that seven out of your Top 11 are either high school players, draft-and-follows, or Latin American signings?

Kevin Goldstein: It’s my theory that no one should draft all college players and fewer teams still do. In general, unless you are talking about elite college players, many have a lot of polish but they also have a tools weakness, which limits their ceiling. I use the Blue Jays as an example, a team that used to just draft college guys, where you end up with a lot of players like Aaron Hill and Russ Adams. They are fundamentally sound but are they going to make a huge difference? No. The Padres do go college heavy but this year you are beginning to see a new era with them. In Latin America, they spent some money on players that are young and with high ceilings. College players like savings bonds, pretty secure investment, but you are not going to be able to go out and buy the Mercedes with that investment either. Latin American and high school players are like Tech stocks. Often you lose, but when you hit, it’s really sweet.

The Padres find themselves in a fantastic position this year, where they can grab (almost) anyone they want, and they hopefully won’t find themselves in that spot again for a while. There are plenty of safer picks to take in this year’s draft, which we will cover in the coming weeks, but Tate might be this team’s opportunity to take a chance.

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