08/18/09 3:14 AM ET
Friars sign No. 3 overall Draft pick Tate
Club also agrees to terms with second- , fourth-round choices
By Tim Powers / Special to MLB.com
The deal is worth a reported $6.25 million, which marks a club record and is the most San Diego has doled out to a Draft pick since paying the first overall pick in 2004, Matt Bush, $3.15 million.
"It's certainly the most we've spent since I've been here," said Grady Fuson, the club's vice president of scouting and player development. "I credit [owner Jeff Morad]. [The budget] could have been tightening on us for a bit, but it never did."
Tate was in attendance at Monday's game at PETCO Park, taking in the action from the fifth row in the dugout seats behind home plate.
A product of Cartersville High School and son of former NFL running back Lars Tate, Donavan Tate also had an opportunity to play football for the University of North Carolina, but chose to ink a deal with San Diego and begin his professional baseball career instead.
"We have identified a need for athleticism, particularly in the outfield, when playing at PETCO Park," Padres executive vice president/general manager Kevin Towers said. "In signing Donavan Tate, we have acquired an excellent ballplayer and one of the premier athletes available in this year's Draft."
Tate figured to command top dollar not only for his athletic ability, but also because his agent is Scott Boras, a notorious negotiator who regularly gets big money for his clients. However, Grady Fuson, the club's vice president of scouting and player development, indicated the talks went more smoothly than expected.
"To be honest with you, I think the negotiations went well," said Fuson. "We started a couple of weeks ago and last week we got rolling. There are obviously a lot of variables to this, but at the same time, I thought the whole negotiation from start to finish was somewhat pleasant."
The team hopes for a far better return on its investment from Tate than it received from Bush, who never advanced above Class A, ran into a variety of legal issues, and was traded to Toronto in February.
In high school, Tate hit .525 with 10 home runs while posting a 1.000 slugging percentage and .788 on-base percentage in 2009. He hit 32 home runs total in his high school career and was named an AFLAC All-American in '08.
Tate, who was in attendance at Monday night's game against the Cubs at PETCO Park, reported to camp with the Tarheels football team for a day, but pulled out and caused speculation that a signing with the Padres was imminent. Fuson said that was never the case.
"We knew all along that football was not where this guy's heart was," Fuson said. "We did not think that, from where we were picking in the Draft, from where he went in the Draft, that he had any intent on playing football."
The Padres also signed their second-round pick, high school outfielder Everett Williams, and fourth-round pick Keyvius Sampson, a right-handed pitcher out of Forest High School in Ocala, Fla.
The club also announced a deal with 17th-round pick Jorge Reyes, a right-handed pitcher out of Oregon State who pitched in the 2007 College World Series as a freshman and was named Most Outstanding Player.
Tate and Sampson will report to an instructional league in Arizona on Wednesday, and Williams will do the same on Thursday.
The signings on Monday meant that San Diego agreed to terms with each of its top 10 picks in the Draft.
Tim Powers is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.