Saturday, April 5, 2014

Donavan Tate Is The Worst Draft Pick In Padres History

The headline says it all. Sure, the topic of the worst pick in Padres history is completely open to debate. The Padres have whiffed on numerous #1 overall picks, most notably Matt Bush. Matt Bush had no business to be that #1 pick -- as Bush's selection was influenced by the thriftiness of John Moores. In retrospect, Donavan Tate is the biggest bust in Padres history.

When Tate was drafted 3rd overall in the  2009 MLB Draft, he was described a "toolsy" outfielder who was raw at the plate, but had the ability to become the best hitter in the draft. He drew comparisons to Chris Young and Mike Cameron, and he was pegged to be the a gifted athlete, as he was offered a scholarship to play quarterback at North Carolina. Grady Fuson, who was the Padres director of player development, said Tate could develop into "Andruw Jones in his prime."

The Padres signed Tate for $6.25 million, which is still the largest bonus in club history. The Padres envisioned a center fielder reminiscent of Dave Winfield. Instead the team received an immature high school kid with the inability to make smart decisions.

The drama with Tate started in late 2009, when he suffered facial lacerations and a broken jaw from an ATV accident near his Georgia home. He missed the beginning of the 2010 season after hurting his shoulder in Spring Training.

Tate finally made his debut with the Padres rookie team in Peoria. He struck out 41 times in 107 plate appearances, hitting just .222. The reports that came in raved about his tools, but commented on how raw he looked.

Tate started the 2011 season with the short-season Eugene Emeralds, and posted decent numbers before testing positive for recreational drugs. It was the second time Tate tested positive for a drug of abuse, and was suspended for 25 games, after receiving a 25 game credit for attending drug counseling. At this point in his career, Tate had two career drug suspensions -- and two minor league home runs to his credit.

Tate started the 2012 season in Low-A Fort Wayne, while the two players chosen ahead of him -- Stephen Strasburg and Dustin Ackley already made their major league debut. Tate again looked lost at the plate, as he produced a triple-slash line of .207/.294/.254. San Diego attempted to motivate him by sending him to High-A Lake Elsinore, where he produced a solid OBP of .391, albeit with no traces of power whatsoever.

In 2013, Tate's drama continued, as he was absent at the start of Spring Training. He did not report until June, spending five months in drug rehab, according to an article by Padres beat writer Corey Brock. He played in just 23 games in 2013 in Eugene.

The Union Tribune reported that Tate has surgery earlier in 2014 to repair a torn ACL. Tate will miss all of the 2014 season. Tate will have to wait until 2015 to even attempt to fulfill any promise he once had.

The Padres have had the first overall five times, most recently with Matt Bush in 2004. Of those five players, Bush is the only one who hasn't played in the big leagues. The Padres have drafted 2nd and 3rd overall three times each, with catcher Ben Davis and pitcher Dustin Hermanson included in that group.

Bush had a myriad of problems of his own: alcoholism, immaturity, and eventually, a DUI hit-and-run that left a man critically injured. Bush is a terrible human being -- it would be unfair to say the same about Tate. He just a young man who made poor decisions.

However, when you consider the situations between the two picks, Tate was the bigger bust for many reasons. The first reason is the amount of cash involved. Bush received a healthy $3 million bonus, while Tate received $6 million. Some of the players that were on the board when the Padres drafted Tate included: Zack Wheeler, Mike Minor, Mike Leake, Aaron Crow and some guy named Mike Trout.

Of course, Trout was not considered to be a top-3 pick, but it leaves a lot of room for debate. Mike Minor and Leake were considered by the Padres for the third pick, and both players are solid big leaguers.

At the end of the day, Tate is a sad tale in Padres history. The promising outfielder who couldn't stay off of drugs to stay on the field. A player who was constantly injured and made wrong choices at every turn. I hope Tate can resume his career and find some success. However, it will not be in a Padres uniform. For this blogger, Donavan Tate is the worst pick in franchise history.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Padres Minor League Chronicles: April 4, 2014

Tonight was a busy evening down on the farm for the Padres of the future. The big league Padres struggled in Miami, but it wasn't all bad for the Padres system. Let's dive in.

Fort Wayne 5, Great Lakes 2: Fort Wayne bounced back after being shutout last night. A couple of Padres draft picks from 2013 had big games. Josh VanMeter went 3-4, with a pair of doubles. Dustin Peterson was a homer short of the cycle, with a pair of RBI's. Matthew Chabot got the win in relief, striking out 5 guys in 1.2 innings of work. 

Lake Elsinore 6, Lancaster 1: Alberth Martinez led off the game with a bomb, and Luis Domoromo added a solo shot in the 2nd inning. Hunter Renfroe introduced himself to the California League, going to 2-4, with a homer and 3 RBI's. Zack Eflin pitched 6 innings, allowing just 2 hits and a run. 

Springfield 1, San Antonio 0: Rough night for the Missions, as they had only 4 hits, and just one extra base hit -- a double by Jace Peterson. Josh Geer took the loss, but he only allowed a run in four innings. Austin Hedges and Rymer Liriano each went 0-4. 

Reno 2, El Paso 0: The bats were silent in Reno, where it snowed earlier in the day. Alberto Gonzalez had a two-hit game, and well, that's about it on the offensive end. Keyvius Sampson was the loser, but he allowed only 1 run in 4.1 innings. He struck out 3 batters, and issues two walks. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Padres Minor League Chronicles: April 3, 2014

Four of the Padres minor league affiliates opened up their seasons this evening. The night was special, as it was the first game in the history of the El Paso Chihuahuas, the new AAA team in the Padres organization. Here is what happened on the farm:

Great Lakes 9, Fort Wayne 0: Rough night for the Tincaps, as they managed just three hits. Third baseman Dustin Peterson went 1-4, with a double. 2012 1st round pick got the start for Fort Wayne, and got knocked around, allowing 5 runs (4 earned) in just 3 innings of work.

Lancaster 8, Lake Elsinore 2: The game got away from Lake Elsinore in the middle innings, as they allowed 2 runs in the 5th inning, and 4 more in the 6th. Outfielder Alberth Martinez had a good game, going 2-3 with two doubles and both RBI's for the Storm. Joe Ross took the loss, allowing 4 runs in 5 innings of work.

San Antonio 7, Springfield 4: San Antonio jumped out with 3 runs in the 1st inning and never looked back. Jace Peterson had a Double-A debut to remember, as he went 3-4, with a homer, 3 RBI's and 3 runs scored. Prized prospect Austin Hedges also had 3 hits. Matt Wisler got the start, and allowed 2 runs in 3 innings. Jesse Hahn got the win for San Antonio with three shutout innings.

El Paso 7, Reno 5: Here is a trivia question for you. Who hit the first homer in El Paso Chihuahua's history? Well, it was Major League veteran Jeff Francoeur, who went 2-4. Rico Noel and Reymond Fuentes each had 3 hits, and Brooks Conrad also homered. Kevin Quackenbush picked up the save, as Jorge Reyes got the win in relief.

Padres Notes: Lafromboise Claimed On Waivers, Close To Deal With Despaigne

The Padres made a roster move last night, claiming LHP Bobby Lafromboise on waivers from the Seattle Mariners. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Padres placed RHP Joe Wieland on the 60-day DL, after he had elbow surgery. Lafromboise was also optioned to AAA El Paso. 

Lafromboise is a 27-year old lefty who is from Southern California (he was born in Downey) and attended the University of New Mexico. He was drafted by the Mariners in the 8th Round of the 2008 MLB Draft. 

Lafromboise has appeared in 10 MLB games, all last year with Seattle. He posted an 0-1 record with a 5.91 ERA. All of his work came in relief. Last year in AAA, Lafromboise showed promise, posting 63 strikeouts in 61 innings.

The Padres spent the offseason, looking for left-handed pitching. They signed Tony Sipp to a minor league contract, drafted Patrick Schuster in the Rule V draft, and traded for Alex Torres. Lafromboise gives the Padres another left-handed option in the minor league system. The transaction was reported by Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors.com

Joel Sherman of the New York Post also reports that the Padres are nearing a deal with Cuban pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne. According to the report, the contract will be a minor league pact, with limited money. Despaigne has visa issues to work out, and probably won't be able to sign a contract for 3-4 weeks. 

Despaigne is a starting pitcher, who has posted a 3.38 ERA in the last four seasons as a starter. He isn't as touted as some of the other pitchers who have defected, but it is encouraging to see the Padres tap into the international market for pitching. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lake Elsinore Storm Set Their Roster

The Lake Elsinore Storm, the Padres High-A affiliate set up their roster today. The Storm should be an exciting team to watch, as they feature several of the Padres top prospects. Let's take a look at the roster.

The team is headlined by OF Hunter Renfroe, the Padres top pick in last year's draft. Renfroe made his pro debut last year for the Eugene Emeralds, and set the Pacific Northwest on fire, by slugging .510 in his brief stint in the Northwest League.

The team also features Joe Ross, the younger brother of Tyson. Ross, who is just 20, held his own in big league camp this spring, and he should be the Storm's Opening Day starter. The pitching staff also features first-rounder Zach Eflin and at some point, Max Fried, the Padres top pitching prospect.

Corey Adamson, an outfielder from Australia will also start the year in Elsinore. Adamson is a much-improved hitter, helped in part by playing in his homeland in the off-season. Luis Domoromo, another outfielder, will start his third season with the Storm.

Here is the rest of the roster:

Pitchers: Brandon Alger, Zach Eflin, Trevor Gott, Cody Hebner, Ruben Mejia, Bryce Morrow, Christopher Nunn, Ben Paullus, Colin Rea, Bryan Rodriguez, Joe Ross, Matthew Shepard.

Catchers: Jeremy Rodriguez, John Nester.

Infielders: Stephen Carmon, Diego Goris, B.J. Guinn, Duanel Jones, Casey McElroy, Gabriel Quintana

Outfielders: Corey Adamson, Luis Domoromo, Alberth Martinez, Hunter Renfroe

*Note: In the initial post, I left off pitcher Matthew Shepard.

Fort Wayne Tincaps Set Their Roster

The Fort Wayne Tincaps, who are the Low-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres set their roster earlier today, according to a report on the team's website. The team's initial roster will include 12 position players and 13 pitchers. Here are a few names that you should know: 

INF Josh VanMeter: VanMeter is actually a really cool story, as he is the first player to play from the Fort Wayne area to actually play for the Tincaps. VanMeter was drafted by the Padres in the fifth round of last year's draft. He got a few at-bats for the Padres in Spring Training, and he posted a .378 OBP in 44 games with the Rookie League team. He is only 19. 

RHP Walker Weickel: Weickel was one of the Padres' supplemental draft picks in 2012 (55th overall). Weickel will return to Fort Wayne, where he went 3-6, with a 5.04 ERA last season. Weickel is still is 20, and should have an easier time in his second stint with the Tincaps. 

SS Franchy Cordero: Cordero has become a favorite of bloggers and prospect fiends everywhere. Cordero is a 6'3 shortstop, who has developing power. He was rated as the #3 prospect in the Arizona League by Baseball America. Cordero was signed out of the Dominican Republic. Last year in the Arizona League, he produced a triple-slash line of .333/.381/.511. 

Here is what the roster will look like: 

Pitchers: Payton Baskette, Jimmi Brasoban, Erik Cabrera, Matt Chabot, Adrian De Horta, Tayron Guerrero, Pete Kelich, Walker Lockett, Nick Mutz, Genison Reyes, Josh Richardson, Tony Rizzotti, Walker Weickel. 

Catchers: Ryan Miller, Dane Phillips. 

Infielders: Reynaldo Bruguera, Franchy Cordero, Fernando Perez, Dustin Peterson, Luis Tejada, Josh VanMeter

Outfielders: Outfielders (4): Henry Charles, Franmil Reyes, Mallex Smith, Jose Urena

Monday, March 31, 2014

Padres Win Opener With Clutch Comeback

The Padres have often talked about the importance of getting off to a good start in the first month of the season. So far, so good.

The Padres scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, for a come-from-behind, 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In the first inning, the Padres had a chance to take the early lead, when they loaded the bases with only one out. However, Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso grounded into a double play, which ended the rally. San Diego also had two men on in the second inning, but they failed to capitalize.

Andrew Cashner got the start for San Diego, and looked like the ace the Padres hope he can be. Cashner gave up just one run in his six innings of work. The Dodgers scored their only run off of Cashner in the fifth inning on a Carl Crawford RBI single.

The Padres trailed 1-0 in the eighth inning, when offseason acquisition Seth Smith stepped to the plate. Smith pounded a Brian Wilson slider into the right field stands to tie the score. Later in the inning, Chris Denorfia lined a two-run single up the middle to give the Padres the lead for good. All three runs were scored off of Brian Wilson, who took the loss for Los Angeles.

Huston Street pitched a spotless ninth for the Padres, picking up the save. Dale Thayer got the win for the Paders in relief.

The Padres have an off-day tomorrow, before returning to take on the Dodgers on Tuesday afternoon.