Young Influx

Youth movement begins in San Diego





SAN DIEGO—With an eye on the future, the youth movement has begun in San Diego.

So it would have been devastating had the Padres not signed their top two picks, outfielders Donavan Tate and Everett Williams. But the club got both signed, as well as righthander Keyvius Sampson, a fourth-round pick.

Tate, 18, cost the Padres a $6.25 million bonus, a record both for the franchise and for any high school position player in draft history. Williams signed for $775,000 and Sampson received $400,000. All had options. Tate had a scholarship to play football at North Carolina and had even practiced with the Tar Heels before he signed. Williams had signed to play baseball at Texas, and Sampson was committed to Florida State.

"Signing with the Padres was a hard decision, but I love baseball, and made it my priority," Tate said.

An abdominal strain will delay the start to his pro career and could cause him to miss as many as five weeks. "When I make a decision, I stick by it. So my football days are over. I hold myself to a high standard. I have high expectations for myself."

Tate said batting practice in Petco wasn't his first in a big league park. Last year when he played in the Aflac All-America Classic, he played in Dodger Stadium. And he hit in Wrigley Field last year.

"This was different, though," he said. "It was nervous and exciting. More important than BP, I got to talk with the guys, pick their brains, experience big league life for a day."

A day after Tate hit with the big club, Williams did the same thing. While neither player reached the seats in spacious Petco Park, both were impressive.

"The whole signing thing was a long process," he said. "Finally, I told myself, pro ball is me. And I'm glad we got it done. I'm ready to start making my way up to the Padres."

Tate, Williams and Sampson all reported to the Padres' complex in Peoria, Ariz.

FATHER FIGURES

• The Padres also signed 17th-round pick Jorge Reyes, a righthander from Oregon State, at the deadline. The organization signed its top 10 picks, but their 11th pick, junior college righthander Drew Madigral will head to Auburn. The Padres wanted to sign 20th-rounder John Wooten, a third baseman from Eastern Wayne High in Goldsboro, N.C., but couldn't come to an agreement.

• Righthander Jerry Sullivan, a third-round pick out of Oral Roberts, was 4-2, 3.83 with 22 walks and 53 strikeouts  in 45 innings in his pro debut.