Padres Matt Bush Draft Pick Sets Team Back For 10 years

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Alright, I believe the statute of limitations on a bad draft pick is officially over, and oh what a horrible selection it truly turned out to be.  The San Diego Padres selection of Matt Bush with the #1 overall pick raised a few eyebrows on that day in 2004. It was pretty widely known the Padres were interested in Jered Weaver (Long Beach State) and Stephen Drew (Florida State University). Both collegiate athletes were unfortunately represented by notable super agent Scott Boras.

Each player ultimately fell in the draft 12th pick (Weaver) & 15th pick (Drew).  Also available in the draft were collegiate pitchers Jeff Niemann, Philip Humber (both from Rice University) and Justin Verlander (Vanderbilt University). Verlander went second to the Tigers that year and the rest is history. Could you imagine Padres teams from 2005 forward being anchored by Verlander? The franchise could have retained a solid relationship with its fans, instead we all got a bitter taste in our mouths.

Matt Bush was no slouch, I should not give you that impression. He was a legit five-tool talent. Bush was by far the best high school talent available. He was a local kid, with tons of natural ability and the Padres and owner John Moores just did not want to give into Boras’ high-priced demands.  So on June 7th, 2004, the pick was made and the franchise would regret the pick almost immediately. Two weeks after signing his contract, Bush was involved in a confrontation in a Peoria bar. Wait, he is 18 years old…. what is he doing in a bar? Padres ownership almost tried to void the contract but ultimately decided his upside was too high and well…. boys will be boys they figured.

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When it was all said and done, Bush’s hitting numbers in the minors were horrid. In four years and 259 minor league games, the #1 pick in all of baseball committed more errors (76) than runs batted in (70) and totaled a .219 average to go with a .294 OPB. He only slugged 3 home runs in his 722 minor league at-bats. In late 2007 after hitting .204 in high-A ball, he was converted to a pitcher. Bush seemed inspired and was lighting up the radar guns. Clocked time was sitting at 97-98 mph, it seemed like he was going to finally  pay dividends. On August 9th 2007 (in low-A Ball), he tore his elbow ligament and was lost for the next season and a half.

More off-field issues followed Bush. While on rehab from Tommy John surgery, he was involved in an alcohol-related altercation at Granite Hills High School with two under-aged lacrosse players. That was enough, the Padres had enough. He was designated/released on February 5th 2009 to make room for the recently signed Cliff Floyd. Matt Bush ultimately signed on with the Blue Jays and the Rays as his talent and potential outweighed his off-field issues.

Matt Bush currently sits in a Florida State Prison serving 51 months for a drunk driving incident in which he allegedly hit a 72-year old motorcyclist. He is scheduled for release November 11, 2015. The 2004 MLB Draft will go down in franchise history as a bad one for the Friars, that is without a doubt. The state of ownership and the front office back then was in flux, it truly set the team back for a decade. Ironically the first pick of the 2005 MLB Draft (by the Arizona Diamondbacks) was Justin Upton. Now we look to that overall #1 pick to take the Padres to October. GO PADRES!!!

Next: Padres Shortstop Prospects: Who's Left?

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