Unnatural Selection

Padres go against type to select prep star Donavan Tate

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SAN DIEGO—Former major league infielder Harold Reynolds, working the draft for the MLB Network, called the Padres "one of the most boring teams in baseball."
This could be the most exciting Padres draft of the decade. Scouts are mixed on OF Donavan Tate's (first round) bat, but if he clicks he's exactly the athlete the Padres need in Petco Park. OF Everett Williams (second) may not be on Tate's level, but he's not far off and could be a coup. RHP Keyvius Sampson (fourth) fell due to signability concerns. The college picks, such as RHPs Jerry Sullivan (third), Miles Mikolas (seventh) and Chris Fetter (ninth), provide a solid crop of pitchers as well.

A plodding, station-to-station team, San Diego has few pure athletes on its big league club or in the minors. In a departure from their college-first, play-it-safe philosophy, the Padres took a chance with the third overall pick of the draft, selecting high school outfielder Donavan Tate.

They followed by tapping another athlete, outfielder Everett Williams from Austin's McCallum High in the second round.

"This was a good day," director of scouting and player development Grady Fuson said. "Obviously, we got two very athletic and offensive-minded outfielders.

"Tate has huge raw power. He has great projectable power. He has great lift and loft to the pull field. A worst case is that he's a Mike Cameron-type, a great defender with power who strikes out a lot.

"The best case is that he's Andruw Jones, at his best."

Tate, a standout athlete and two-sport star at Catersville High in northwest Georgia, has shown plus speed, running the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds. His fastball clocked as high as 93-94 mph as an amateur, and he can throw a football 70 yards.

The son of former NFL running back Lars Tate, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Donavan Tate signed a letter of intent to play football at North Carolina, meaning it will cost the Padres to sign him.

The third pick in last year's draft—high school first baseman Eric Hosmer by the Royals—received $6 million to sign. Tate will command at least that.

Bill Gayton, the Padres' scouting director, said Williams was a player who the organization had high on its board.

"We were hoping he'd get to us," he said. "He's a bulldog type with a nice balanced swing. He has a plus arm and he's a plus defender."


• The Padres selected Oral Roberts righthander Jerry Sullivan with the third-round pick.

• Righthander Mat Latos and outfielder Mike Baxter were named the organization's minor league pitcher and player of the month for May. Latos made four appearances in May—two each at low Class A Fort Wayne and Double-A San Antonio—and combined to go 4-0, 0.50. Baxter hit .426 (49-for-115) with 17 doubles, a triple, a home run and 26 RBIs in 28 games for San Antonio.