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Padres make Bush top pick
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06/07/2004  1:49 PM ET
Padres make Bush top pick
High school shortstop a surprise first selection
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Matt Bush has a .450 average (55-for-123) in his senior year of high school. (Courtesy Mission Bay HS)

SAN DIEGO -- Throwing a draft-day changeup, the Padres grabbed high school shortstop Matt Bush with their first selection.

After speculation shifted back and forth on whom they might take with the first pick Monday, the Padres named Bush No. 1 in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft in a surprise pick.

Out of nearby Mission Bay High School, Bush hit .450 this season with 11 doubles, 11 homers and 35 RBIs.

"We are very excited about Matt Bush," said director of scouting Bill "Chief" Gayton. "He's a player that we've watched for several years now and we project him to perform at a high level once he reaches the Majors. Bush has one of the best arms I've ever scouted. He's a player who's a local talent that you rarely get an opportunity to bring into your system."

The issue came down to signability.


Complete Draft coverage >

Early focus was on one of two right-handed pitchers: Jered Weaver of Long Beach State and Jeff Niemann out of Rice University. But with the Padres deep in pitching throughout the organization, general manager Kevin Towers and director of scouting Bill "Chief" Gayton began taking a closer look at shortstop Stephen Drew of Florida State.

Drew hit .353 for the Seminoles this season with 14 doubles, 14 homers and 52 RBIs while leading his team with six triples and became the leader in the clubhouse among prospects over the final days leading up to the draft.

Matt Bush
School:
Mission Bay High School
Position: RHP   B/T: R/R
H: 5-10   W: 170
Born: 1986-02-08   Class: HS
Scouting report:
AGILE, ATHLETIC FRAME. MEDIUM BUILD. LEAN MUSCLE TONE, STRONG FOREARMS & WRISTS. SIMILAR TO NOMAR GARCIAPARRA. STRAIGHT AWAY STANCE. SHORT, QUICK COMPACT STROKE. WILL LAY OUT FOR BALL IN THE HOLE. AGGRESSIVE FASTBALL HITTER. CONSISTENT HARD CONTACT. GOOD TRIGGER. SOFT, SURE HANDS WITH PLUS INSTINCTS. FEET WORK WELL, QUICK ON THE DOUBLE PLAY. RUNS THE BASES WELL.
Scouting video:
56K | 350K

But reports had Drew seeking a deal similar to Rickie Weeks, the second selection in last year's draft, who got a $3.6 million signing bonus and a guaranteed big league contract worth $4.79 million from the Brewers. Drew, like Weaver, is represented by Scott Boras.

Not wishing to get bogged down in salary negotiations with their first-round choice, the Padres turned their attention to Bush. The Padres want their first-round choice to get into the system and play this summer.

The 5-foot-11, 170-pound right-handed hitting infielder also can pitch, hitting the gun in the low 90s with his fastball and is reported to have a plus curveball. As a two-way threat, Bush was 9-1 with a 0.42 ERA on the mound this season and set CIF San Diego Section records with 211 hits and 196 runs scored in his high school career. He also clubbed 24 homers in his high school career with the Buccaneers.

With the big club in contention in the NL West, immediate need was not a concern and the Padres were able to take some gambles with the draft board. Also, Khalil Greene, who was drafted just two years ago, advanced quickly through the organization and is the starting shortstop for the Padres this season. Bush helps fill a need in the system.

Bush projects as a plus shortstop with his live arm and Baseball America rated him as the best defensive player in the draft. Some scouts say Bush could reach the Majors as quickly as three years.

This year's draft marks a return to a position player as the first choice for the Padres. They grabbed Tim Stauffer out of Richmond in 2003, who has since advanced to Double-A and is pitching for the BayBears in Mobile. In the previous drafts the Padres took Greene (2002) and infielder Jake Gautreau (2001).

Bush, who committed to play for Tony Gwynn at San Diego State in the fall, was a first team All-America selection by Baseball America this season and a second teamer in 2003.

Bush is just the second San Diego native to be selected by the Padres with their No. 1 pick in the First-Year Player Draft. In 1979, the Padres selected catcher Bob Geren 24th overall out of local Clairemont High School.

Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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