Donavan Tate looks like another draft bust for Padres

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In light of his 50-game drug suspension, Donavan Tate is shaping up as the latest in a long line of draft busts for the Padres.

Here are their 17 first-round picks over a 15-year span from 1995-2009, along with their career WARs, courtesy of Baseball-Reference.

1995 – Ben Davis (2nd): 2.9
1996 – Matt Halloran (15th)
1997 – Kevin Nicholson (27th): -0.1
1998 – Sean Burroughs (9th): 1.6
1999 – Vince Faison (20th)
1999 – Gerik Baxter (28th)
1999 – Omar Ortiz (29th)
2000 – Mark Phillips (9th)
2001 – Jake Gautreau (14th)
2002 – Khalil Greene (13th): 8.1
2003 – Tim Stauffer (4th): 4.5
2004 – Matt Bush (1st)
2005 – Cesar Carrillo (18th): -1.2
2006 – Matt Antonelli (17th): -0.4
2007 – Nick Schmidt (23rd)
2008 – Allan Dykstra (23rd)
2009 – Donavan Tate (3rd)

This pretty much all falls on Kevin Towers’ shoulders.  He was the Padres’ scouting director from 1993-1995 and he took over as the GM after that, running the team through the 2009 season.  He often managed to keep the Padres competitive despite modest budgets, but he was unable to find potential stars and even struggled to land quality regulars in the draft.

Only seven of the 17 picks made the majors and just three had signficant careers. Davis is long gone, and it doesn’t look like Greene is going to make it back from the anxiety issues that derailed his career. Stauffer, the 4th overall pick in the 2003 draft, is the one guy contributing to a major league team right now, and at least he is doing it for the Padres.

Besides Stauffer and Tate, Schmidt is the only other pick still in the organization, but he’s struggled to make it back from Tommy John surgery and it’s doubtful he’ll reach the majors.  Dykstra, the 2008 first-rounder, was traded to the Mets for reliever Eddie Kunz this spring in a swap of disappointments.

Now it’s probably not fair to write Tate off just yet; he still has plenty of tools.  However, he’s been troubled by injuries since the day he signed, and the drug issues only make him more of a long shot.  He’s just 20, so he has plenty of time to turn it around.  Little so far has been encouraging, though.

As for the picks since 2009, well, Karsten Whitson has a chance to be a big-time pitcher.  Unfortunately, he didn’t sign after the Padres took him ninth overall last year.  He’ll be starting for the University of Florida tonight in the College World Series.

The Padres’ compensation pick for not signing Whitson was second baseman Cory Spangenberg, but Spangenberg looked like a big reach with the 10th pick in this year’s draft.  The Padres’ other 2011 first-rounder, high school right-hander Joe Ross, seems like a better bet.  Still, he’s a few years away in a best-case scenario.

The Tigers are trying to convert Anthony Gose into a pitcher

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Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.

While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.

Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:

Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.

Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals’ Opening Day starter

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Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.

Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.

Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.

The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.