Padres spend record amount on Draftees

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Photo from Let's Play Two via Flikr

Photo from 'Let's Play Two' via Flikr

$6.25 million isn’t bad when you’re eighteen years old. Neither is $775,000. Or $600,000.

Each of these figures is what the Padres paid to sign three of their top four draft picks, all three just a couple months removed from their high school graduation.

Donavan Tate, their first-round pick and the third pick overall in the draft, recieved the largest contract ever awarded to a player drafted by the Padres at $6.25 million. Tate, from Cartersville, Ga. was the first high school player picked in this year’s draft and reportedly one of the most athletic players available. His father, Lars, was a running back for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears. Donavan was a two-sport athlete at Cartersville High School, playing baseball and football. He had a scholarship offer to play both sports at the University of North Carolina, but opted to sign with the Padres instead. He is viewed as a centerfielder.

The Padres second-round pick, Everett Williams, signed for $775,000. Williams, an outfielder from McCallum High School in Austin, Texas had hoped to be picked in the first round, but ultimately received a larger contract than most second-round picks. He had a scholarship offer to play college baseball in his hometown at the University of Texas. In an odd twist, Williams’ father, also named Everett, is also a former NFL player.

Right-handed pitcher Keyvius Sampson, the Padres fourth-round pick, signed for $600,000. Sampson, from Forest High School in Ocala, Fla. had a baseball scholarship to Florida State University.

In all, the Padres signed 38 players out of the 50 that they picked in the draft, including 33rd round pick Jon Berger, a picher from San Diego State.

According to Grady Fuson, the Padres vice president of scouting and player development, the Padres spent more on the draft than they had anticipated.

“We are going to come in over budget,” Fuson said, noting that the Padres spent more than $9 million on the draft picks they signed.

Overall, the heavy spending on the draft represents a new direction for the Padres, who are undergoing an ownership change, with the new ownership group headed by Padres CEO and former player agent Jeff Moorad.

As the Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays have shown, low payroll teams can compete with high payroll teams such as the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees by having successful drafts and taking the best player available. Ultimately, if a low-payroll team cannot afford to pay established major league free agents what a higher-payroll team can, then spending some money to draft the best available amateur players is the most cost-effective way to build a team. This appears to be the strategy that the Padres are now taking.

Tate, Williams, and Sampson were all signed on August 17th, the final day for teams to sign their draft picks. If the players did not sign, they would have gone to the colleges where they had scholarships and not have been eligible to be drafted again until 2012.

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