06/03/2004 4:10 PM ET
Versatility is Bush's game
High schooler excels as shortstop, pitcher
By Ray Sikes / Special to MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- Senior Matt Bush is a legitimate two-way player who has scouts doing a double-take.
|Matt Bush has a .450 average (55-for-123) in his senior year of high school. (Courtesy Mission Bay HS)
Ever since Baseball America named Bush to the 2003 All-America High School Second Team as a junior, scouts and colleges have been lining up to view firsthand the shortstop and right-handed pitcher from Mission Bay High School in San Diego.
Bush made the 2003 team as a utility player, both infielder and pitcher. He was selected to the 2004 Baseball America Preseason All-America First Team as an infielder.
Bush's two-way talents will draw a lot of looks from colleges who could see him starting at shortstop for several innings and then coming in to close the game as a pitcher. This is not unusual at the college level.
But most Major League scouts think that because of his size -- 5-foot-10 -- he's better suited to play shortstop. Bush has great range at short, soft hands and a strong arm. He also can hit for average and power. Bush is batting .458 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs this season.
Bush's name has surfaced all over the top half of the first round. He'l likely be the top high school player taken from the state of California. The thinking seems to be that Bush could go anywhere from the top three picks to the middle of the first round.
Bush, who has already committed to San Diego State and coach Tony Gwynn, broke the San Diego Section career record for runs scored with 167 and also owns the section career mark for hits with 184. Bush was named the CIF San Diego Section Player of the Year as a sophomore and a junior.
"I take pride in the fact that those are some great accomplishments for him," Mission Bay coach Dennis Pugh said. "If you look at his numbers every year, he has been very consistent."
Bush is especially proud of the hits mark. He remembers when another player broke the record of the previous record holder, Oakland A's third baseman Eric Chavez.
"It is just a great honor to be in the same category with him," Bush said.
While his future may be in the infield, scouts believe he can make it as a pitcher, even with a small frame for a power pitcher. Bush's fastball tops out at 94 mph, and he has a great curveball to go with it.
"He could pitch at the next level, but he's going (in the draft) as a shortstop because of his great range," Pugh said.
As a pitcher, Bush has registered some impressive numbers as well. Bush finished the season with an 8-2 record and a 1.34 ERA. He struck out 86 batters in only 68 innings, walking 21.
"I definitely want to play shortstop, but I want to pitch too," Bush said. "There is something about both positions that I enjoy. They both require tremendous focus and concentration.
"I work hard on my hitting and my pitching, and I think I can do both pretty well. At some point it's going to be one or another so I'll do both as long as I can."
Pugh has been Mission Bay's coach for more than 25 years and has had some great players over the years, but puts Bush in a class by himself as the best he's had during his tenure.
"His work ethic and desire to be all that he can is what separates him from other good players. Matt is an all-around good kid who can flat out compete, he will not give an inch," Pugh said. "He is going to get the best out of himself and his abilities. He will not short-change himself."
On playing in the Major Leagues or going to college, time will tell which path Bush chooses. But for now, he is in no hurry.
"This decision is going to play a big part in my future and I want to make it for all the right reasons and make sure I have the right people to talk to about it," Bush said.
Ray Sikes is a contributing writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.