MadFriars' Interview: Donavan Tate

PEORIA, AZ: Donavan Tate, 21, was taken as the number three overall pick by San Diego in the 2009 draft and it was hailed as new era for the Padres.

No longer would they be constrained as they were by former Padres' president Sandy Alderson of his Moneyball style draft picks, with a heavy emphasis on college players and not paying the premium for athletic high-upside high school players.

The organization was willing to be on impact players.

So far the bet hasn't paid off with Tate.

In three seasons in the San Diego organization he has yet to play more than thirty-five games in a year and has been beset by injuries and off the field incidents including a drug suspension in 2011 which cost him a month of the season.

However he also isn't the bust some other members of the media would lead you to believe either.

Last season with the short-season Eugene Emeralds he hit .283/.406/.409. Tate finished third on the Ems in on-base percentage and stole 17 bases in 22 attempts, which was good enough for second on the team despite only playing in thirty-three games.

His biggest improvement is that he dramatically cut down on his strikeouts with a 25/32 BB/K ratio in 152 plate appearances while playing a very good center field.

This spring he was healthy and again the Padres' organization was talking about if they could just get him on the field they believed his immense talent would result in the numbers they believed he was capable of when he was drafted.

So far it hasn't happened.

This season with the TinCaps in 86 plate appearances he has only one extra-base hit and was hitting .205/.279/.218 before going on the disabled list with a pulled hamstring.

We caught up with Donavan at the end of spring training when the outlook was a little brighter talking about what he accomplished in Eugene and what he was hoping for this summer in the Midwest League.

Last year you had some injuries and other problems off of the field. What I was interested in was it seemed from when your suspension started and when you came back you didn't show that much rust.

How were you able to do it?

Donavan Tate: It was a big tribute to the Padres and MLB allowing me to stay with the team and keep working out throughout the whole process.

I was able to come out there early, get BP and take fly balls with everyone helping me out and not falling behind.

When you were first drafted there was much made about how little baseball you had played compared to other players.

Despite your injuries it seems like your batting eye has gotten much better based on your on-base percentage that you had in Eugene.

Donavan Tate: Its just having a better understanding of the game and not swinging at everything. I think I have a better idea of what I want to do and what the pitcher is trying to do. It just comes with playing more and knowing what you are tying to do.

You had some wrist problems last year. How much did that affect your power?

Donavan Tate: Not that much really. I was able to get my wrist taken care of in San Diego this winter and it feels one hundred percent right now. I don't think it will affect anything on the field.

It seems like you have made running on the bases more of an emphasis. Donavan Tate: Yeah I have. Spring training is a great time to work on this, leads and getting your jumps. I tried to run a lot last year too.

What is the biggest thing you are trying to work on for this season?

Donavan Tate: Just getting my at-bats and being on the field. I didn't play as much as I would have liked last year and I just want to be out there.

I'm going to try to stay up the middle and put the ball into the gaps. Nothing really specific, just trying to play as much as I can.

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