Padres Prospect Interview: Donavan Tate

San Diego Padres prospect Donavan Tate had a rough start to his professional career, especially with all the high expectations after being taken third overall. He has put in the work this year, minus a few ailments, and is hoping the extra time in the cages will pay off.

First, let's start with the injuries. It started off a little bit slow. You didn't get a chance to come out to instructs and then the ATV accident, which I know more about, since I had one this off season, too.

Donavan Tate: No fun at all. You know, it was kind of a rough start, coming in having high expectations, expecting to get your feet wet a little bit and get going. Overall, I'm 100 percent now. It kind of helped coming out a little bit early and doing a mini-camp, getting a few extra swings in and getting re-acclimated to the game.

This was the first spring training for you. What was it like out there for you? Did it meet your expectations?

Donavan Tate: Yeah. It definitely did. It was what I expected, just preparing your body, preparing for the mental aspects of the game. Just being ready to play every day. You have to be ready all day.

Is there a frustration level thinking that maybe you're a little bit behind in the process because you did miss instructs?

Donavan Tate: There is a little bit, but obviously that comes from not being able to play. Now, it's just moving forward, knowing I'm 100 percent and I'm ready to go now. I'm making the most of it.

Talk a little bit about the strength of your game and what kind of player you are.

Donavan Tate: I'd probably put the strength in my game as a fielder, being in the field and making plays in the outfield, being able to track down balls and stuff. The hitting is coming along and I'm becoming more comfortable.

Where do you see the weakness as far as hitting is concerned? Are we talking mechanical or seeing the ball?

Donavan Tate: Not so much mechanical or seeing the ball. It's more about being patient and not chasing pitches. Just getting my pitch that I'm looking for and doing something with it.

Does it seem like in the professional game that, obviously, these breaking balls are a lot better? Everything gets a lot better. Is it the recognition?

Donavan Tate: Yeah. It's going to come over time. The game speeds up when you get out here with people who are better at competition. You just have to take it all in, slow it down a little bit, and not try to do too much.

Is there any pressure for you to perform for you coming in as a first-round pick, getting some money?

Donavan Tate: Well, there are expectations, but you don't want to put too much emphasis on that or emphasis on trying to impress other people. Just play your game. I just try to stick to my game, and do the best I can do, give it all I've got.

There's been a lot of talk about this Petco Park mentality, playing the game for Petco Park, all throughout the Minor League system. Does that play into your strengths as well?

Donavan Tate: I think it does as far as the outfield, because it is a big field over there. Hopefully very soon I can help out there on the field and cover a little ground out there.

What are your expectations for the rest of the 2010 season?

Donavan Tate: I think just being able to get in games and seeing my first full season. I just want to get my feet wet a little big, get things going, and hopefully have a successful season.

When you do get on the basis, do you plan to be aggressive? You have some speed, too – take advantage of that?

Donavan Tate: Definitely. You don't want to put too much emphasis on being over-aggressive, getting yourself into bad situations. But, you definitely do want to be aggressive and take stolen basis when you can get them.

I talked to Coach Chester after you were drafted. One of the things he said was that you were "hard nosed." What does that mean?

Donavan Tate: I think he's probably referring to playing hard, giving it 100 percent all the time and not really taking any plays off or taking any at-bats off. Just giving it everything I've got every time, and hopefully I can get the best out of me.

Grady Fuson, who is obviously no longer with us, said that you had a lot of balance in your swing. Do you feel that? Or, are you like, "If I'm missing the ball, then how am I balanced?"

Donavan Tate: No. It's not really something I try to think about. I get in the box and I try to clear my head. I don't worry about the mechanical stuff, because you're obviously having to worry about hitting the ball, so you don't want to think about "where's my hands?" and "where's my feet?" Just get in the box and be ready to go.

How do some of these situational drills help you? Especially in mini-camp, I'm sure, you did a lot of that.

Donavan Tate: Yeah. Definitely having runners in scoring position. It's not trying to do too much, and not getting yourself in a bad situation. Get the pitch you can handle. Get the pitch you can actually do something with and not chasing bad pitches and wasting an at-bat.

It seems like you've maintained a little humility. You stay out here. You're usually one of the last guys in, I've noticed over the last couple of days. Talk a little bit about that, about not being bigger than the game itself.

Donavan Tate: It goes back to it being crazy in high school and stuff with the draft. I base everything on remembering when I was a little kid, asking somebody for their autograph and if they didn't sign it, it made an impact on me. It's just kind of remembering where I came from, and just trying to do my best.

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