Padres Close To Signing Top Pick Donavan Tate?

August 12, 2009 – 11:00 am by Ryan Phillips

donavan-tate

MLB.com and Keith Law have confirmed that the San Diego Padres are close to signing Donavan Tate, the team’s top pick from the 2009 MLB Draft. Both sources think a deal is imminent and at worst will be completed before the August 17th deadline. Tate, a prep outfielder was taken No. 3 overall and is (of course) represented by Scott Boras.

Tate is the highest selection we’ve heard of having any progress in negotiations. North Carolina’s Dustin Ackley (No. 2) and San Diego State’s Stephen Strasburg (No. 1) have had very little happen in terms of potential agreements with the Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals, respectively.

In fact, with Monday’s deadline fast approaching, 18 of the 32 first round picks remain unsigned. One of those picks – Aaron Crow (No. 12, Kansas City) – can be signed after Aug. 17th because he played in the independent leagues this past season. But that’s still a ridiculous number of unsigned first rounders with a deadline looming.

Tate, who has a scholarship to play both football and baseball at North Carolina, has not participated in any of the Tar Heels’ fall football camp workouts so far. That’s a pretty clear indication that he’s ready to sign with the Padres. Sources close to the negotiations have said that San Diego and Scott Boras are “making progress,” which is huge given the acrimony between the organization and super-agent in the past.

There have been absolutely no details released of what the financial parameters of the deal might be. Frankly, we’d be shocked if Tate gets less than $5 million, given hi status as the consensus top prep position player, the most athletic player in the draft and his status as a five-tool prospect.

The Padres also have more good news for fans on the draft pick front, as fourth round pick Keyvius Sampson appears very close to inking a deal. Sampson is a prep right-hander with a scholarship to Florida State and was rated as a first or compensation round talent by several scouting services. Sampson’s representatives and the Padres have been having “good conversations” according to several sources (including Grady Fuson, Padres vice president of scouting and player development) and he could sign before the week is out.

On the downside, it looks as if San Diego’s second round pick, prep outfielder Everett Williams, will likely be honoring his scholarship to the University of Texas. Williams was rated as a first round player by many scouting services and obviously feels he deserves first round money. With the cash they’ll have to shell out to get Tate and Sampson in the fold, Williams is expendable. It felt from the beginning that they picked Williams as a safeguard in case Tate proved too difficult to sign. If Williams, the No. 52 pick overall, opts to head to college the Padres will receive compensation in the form of the corresponding pick in next year’s draft.

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