This is one of those things that won’t mean anything, and probably never comes up again, but hey, if you follow prospects and the draft at all, this is a name. Or at least, it once was:
— John Manuel (@johnmanuelba) November 30, 2015
The son of a NFL running back, Donavan Tate was the third overall pick in the 2009 draft, behind Stephen Strasburg & Dustin Ackley, and ahead of Tony Sanchez & Matt Hobgood. (What a weird top 5.) Other picks in the first round included Drew Storen, Mike Leake, A.J. Pollock, Garrett Richards, and some guy named Trout.
Anyway, it didn’t work out so well for Tate. In six seasons since, he’s yet to progress past Single-A. He’s got a career line of .229/.334/.324. He didn’t even play at all in 2014. As you could guess, he endured quite a few problems, several of his own making:
But the high school center fielder failed two drugs within his first two years in pro ball, was banned 50 games at one point (later reduced to 25 games), had endured a number of injuries when he injured his Achilles in the spring of 2014 upon emerging from a second stay at a rehab facility. Healthy in body mind and spirit in 2015, the 25-year-old Tate played all of his final year under Padres control at high Single-A Lake Elsinore, batting .211/.290/.334 with six homers, 34 RBIs and 112 strikeouts in 95 games after 605 days away from baseball.
More, from a lengthy June profile:
Those who’ve been around the organization the longest are right, Tate admits, to wonder what tools remain after a half-decade of stunted development. Then there are those who are closest to Tate – those who see him scooping up his 1-year-old daughter after games, who see him laughing at the rails with family and friends in town to visit, who see him enjoying this game again – who know how far he’s come already.
So, yeah, if this wasn’t a former top-3 pick, we’re not talking about this. He might not make a minor league team, or be stuck in Single-A all year. The odds he ever makes the big leagues are astronomical. But there was talent here, once. It’s at least interesting to see the name around. There was a time you would have killed to see him in Dodger blue.