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Tate's flagging career takes another wrong turn

The SportsXchange

Donavan Tate's time with the San Diego Padres could be running out.

The third overall pick of the 2009 draft, recipient of a club-record, $6.25 million signing bonus from the Padres, Tate did not report with other San Diego minor league players.

The club said Tate cited "personal reasons."

Tate, a 22-year-old outfielder, has had a series of problems and injuries since signing with the Padres and has yet to play above Class A. There was speculation before this incident that Tate needed to have a good spring just to remain with the organization.

Tate had surgery for a sports hernia shortly after signing with the Padres. Then he missed time after suffering a fractured jaw and other injuries in an ATV accident. In 2010, Tate drew a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy, although the suspension was shortened to 25 games after he entered a substance-abuse program. He missed most of the 2011 season with a knee injury after colliding with fellow Padres outfield prospect Everett Williams at low Class A Fort Wayne.

Last season, Tate split time between the Padres' Class A teams, producing a combined .226 average, one homer and 28 RBI in 371 at-bats. After hitting 32 home runs in his high school career in Georgia, Tate was once projected to be a Mike Cameron, Andruw Jones type of player. However, he has just three homers in 607 at-bats as a professional.

"There's Donavan the ballplayer and Donavan the person," Padres director of player development Randy Smith said. "He needs to work on one before he works on the other. Right now, he's not ready to be here to work out the baseball part of it.

"Anything else, I'm sure Donavan will talk about when he's ready. He's just not going to be here right now."

Tate appears to be the latest in a series of Padres first-round washouts including shortstop/pitcher Matt Bush (first overall, 2004), first baseman Allan Dykstra (2008), right-handed pitcher Karsten Whitson (unsigned, 2010) and left-handed pitcher Nick Schmidt (2007).

In 2007, the Padres had six picks in the first and supplemental first rounds, and only left-handed pitcher Cory Luebke reached the major leagues.
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