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Minor Leaguer Tate absent due to personal issue

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Minor League outfielder Donavan Tate, who was given the highest signing bonus in franchise history, will not report to Spring Training due to a personal issue.

Randy Smith, the Padres' vice president of player development and international scouting, confirmed Thursday that Tate -- who received a $6.25 million bonus for being the third overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft -- will not be in Minor League camp when it begins Friday.

Smith gave no indication of when Tate would arrive in Peoria, the home of the Padres' Spring Training facility.

Tate has a .241/.358/.320 line over parts of three Minor League seasons, with three home runs and 60 RBIs. Last season, Tate hit a combined .226/.342/.278 in 107 games between two Class A affiliates.

The 22-year-old's career has had plenty of stops and starts since the day he was drafted.

In June 2011, Tate was suspended 50 games for violating Major League Baseball's drug prevention and treatment program after testing positive for a "drug of abuse" for the second time. He served 25 games of that suspension after getting credit for 25 after he underwent substance-abuse counseling.

Tate had sports hernia surgery in October 2009. In November of that year, he suffered a broken jaw and facial lacerations in an ATV accident near his Georgia home. In 2010, Tate missed the start of the regular season after suffering a sprained left shoulder in Spring Training.

"It's too bad," said San Diego manager Bud Black. "It's a sad story."

Tate, who had signed a letter of intent to play quarterback at the University of North Carolina coming out of high school, was widely regarded as the top high school player in the 2009 Draft. Tate, who is represented by agent Scott Boras, is the son of Lars Tate, a former running back at Georgia who also played three seasons in the NFL.

The Padres -- under then-owner Jeff Moorad -- certainly had high hopes for Tate, who was picked after the Nationals took pitcher Stephen Strasburg (No. 1 overall) and the Mariners took second baseman Dustin Ackley (No. 2 overall).

"We've kind of said, worst-case scenario, maybe a Mike Cameron ... somebody that hits .240, .250, a lot of punchouts maybe, but big bombs and plays as good a defense as you get. Durable, athletic, steals a lot of bases," former Padres director of player development Grady Fuson said in 2009.

"Best-case scenario, you got the whole ball of wax. You got an Andruw Jones or something in his best years."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter.
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