Donavan Tate, The Oakland A's, and Pick Number 13

Grover (I hope I capitalized correctly at the beginning of a sentence) wrote a great draft post but my comment was getting way way too long so I thought I would move it to its own post.

First, I can't emphasize enough how awesome Andy Seiler and his draft blog MLB Bonus baby is.  Yesterday he answered my question about the A's possible choices.

Can you talk about the possibility of the A’s drafting Tate tomorrow if he falls that far. Also the A’s lack supplemental and second round picks. Who do you think they will be considering in the Third. Do you think Tommy Mendonca will be around still at that point?

Comment by Designatedforassignment | June 8, 2009 1:14 PM

Mendonca’s chances of being there are probably 20-30%, depending on what other college hitters go in the supplemental first. If more go than expected, then the teams in the second would jump on Mendonca as one of the more powerful bats left.

As for Tate, I’ve been hearing weird rumors for the past week or so that the A’s are the other first round match for Tate, but only if they think his commitment isn’t worth $6MM+. They would probably go into the Ynoa range for him, though.

I think this is an interesting development on Tate since rumor has it that the A's have been crosschecking.  I have generally not been supportive of a Tate pick due to concerns about his bat moving forward.  If you are going to spend $4-6 million on a position prospect, you don't spend it on someone whose bat you have serious questions. 

Apparently he has Bobby Crosbyitis where he chases breaking balls low and away and some reports show front side drift in his swing preventing him from squaring up to balls.  The most common comp that I see is Chris Young who has never had a positive park adjusted batting runs above average based on his wOBA.  His defense should be good to excellent, as this seems to be the only part of his game where he has good baseball intangibles.  If he is 10 runs better in the field than Young and hits like him, Tate could become a 3 WAR player in his good years, though players with the Chris Young/athlete skill set bust very frequently.

The other problem is that Tate will not be a fast mover due to his rawness with the bat so you are looking at him being ready at the end of the Cahill/Anderson years.  The nice thing about drafting a high school pitcher is that they should be ready to supplant Cahill/Anderson in their last year or so.  The nice thing about drafting a college bat is they could get here in the middle of the Cahill/Anderson years.  The downside of the raw high school hitters is that they need time to develop.  How much should this factor into the decision?  Probably not very much at all, but it is something to keep in the back of one's mind.

The other thing to consider is the opportunity cost of paying Tate that kind of money.  While sources are assuming that the A's aren't going to shell out $6m for Tate, he has a ton of leverage with a UNC full ride and football to fall back on.  Since last year, teams with unsigned picks are awarded compensation the following year with a draft pick one slot lower than they received the previous year.  However, the A's are currently at that point in the draft where the elite talent starts running out.  Moving further down by not signing Tate is probably significant as in a lot of drafts there is a lot of fall off around the early teen level of picks.  Also picking next year lessens the chance that any player drafted will help during the Cahill/Anderson years.  If the A's do sign Tate that would probably take a huge chunk out of the money they could use in Latin America and for overslots latter in the draft.  While the A's may be destined to lose out on Sano there are some other intriguing lower cost prospects in Latin America this year, and there are always signability guys like Robert Stock who could fall to our second and third round picks.  You have to consider that distributing the risk on other players is probably a more successful strategy than spending on one pricey amateur with a risky bat.

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