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.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.

Josh Hamilton leaves camp with a tweaked knee

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses during a spring training photo shoot on February 28, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.

As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.

You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.