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Padres draft Bush No. 1 overall
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2004 First-Year Player Draft
06/07/2004 7:42 AM ET
Padres draft Bush No. 1 overall
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Padres GM Kevin Towers (left) introduces Matt Bush during a press conference Monday. (Lenny Ignelzi/AP)
• Matt Bush press conference:  350K
• Complete Draft Tracker: By round and by team

NEW YORK -- Matt Bush, a five-tool prep shortstop defensively rated as already Major League-ready, was the San Diego Padres' surprising choice as the No. 1 pick to launch today's 2004 First-Year Player Draft.

Alternately vacillating between Long Beach State pitching ace Jered Weaver and Florida State shortstop Stephen Drew, the Padres instead stayed home.

Soon after selecting the product of local Mission Bay High School, the Padres were believed to have also signed him to a $3.1 million contract.

Weaver and Drew, two leading pre-draft darlings of draft trackers, both slipped considerably, although both were first-rounders.

Weaver, as celebrated for being the younger brother of Jeff Weaver as for his awesome breakout season, went at No. 12 to the Anaheim Angels.

Meanwhile, Drew slipped to No. 15, where he was selected by the Diamondbacks. Drew thus did join brothers J.D. and Tim -- both taken in 1997 -- to become the first set of three brothers taken in the first round.


Complete Draft coverage >

Signability was a deciding factor for Padres general manager Kevin Towers' unexpected and intriguing choice.

Khalil Greene, San Diego's top draft pick only two years ago, is freshly entrenched as the National League West co-leaders' shortstop, but Bush is considered a versatile athlete who can easily adapt to another position.

"We are very excited about Matt Bush," said Bill "Chief" Gayton, the Padres' director of scouting. "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."

This marked San Diego's fifth No. 1 choice in the 40-year history of the draft, and its first since 1988, when the team spent it on right-hander Andy Benes.

Furthermore, the Padres reveled in owning the draft's first pick along with a share of their division's lead. That rare exacta has been enjoyed by only two other clubs in the last decade -- the Twins in 2001, when they chose catcher Joe Mauer, and the 1995 Angels, who selected Darin Erstad.

San Diego's decision launched an otherwise predictable first round that reflected scouts' assessment that this was a generally flat draft pool with relatively few standouts.

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

Given those circumstances, clubs tend to prefer matured college talent with a shorter path to the Majors.

Among the first 30 selections were 17 college players, of them 14 pitchers. The 13 high-school players chosen included five of the seven first-round infielders.

Indicative of the perennially changing nature of the draft, seven outfielders were first-round picks a year ago, but only two gained that status today. Texas high school outfielder Greg Golson was chosen by Philadelphia at No. 21, and five picks later the A's selected Rich Robnett from Fresno State.

Selecting second, the Detroit Tigers chose Justin Verlander, the right-hander from Old Dominion considered to have the best pure stuff of draft-eligible pitchers.

"I'm excited, ready for the process to take course," said Verlander, who went 7-5 in 15 starts with a fastball that occasionally crowds triple-figures.

Justin Verlander
School:
Old Dominion U
Position: RHP   B/T: R/R
H: 6-5   W: 200
Born: 1983-02-20   Class: SR
Scouting report:
LEAN, WIRY STRONG. LONG ARMS. THIN WAIST. TAPERS TO LONG, STRONG LEGS. BODY SIMILAR TO ANDY ASHBY. NO WINDUP, 3/4 DELIVERY. LOOSE, LIVE, QUICK ARM. PWR FB W/ OCCAISIONAL RUN INTO RHH, BAT BREAKER. NASTY, HARD SLIDER, 3/4 TILT, LATE BITE IN ZONE, KNEE BUCKLER. FRANCHISE TYPE PITCHER. NUMBER ONE STARTER. OVERPOWERING STUFF. WILL GET THERE QUICK.
Scouting video:
56K | 350K

Going third and fourth were moundmates in the rotation of defending College World Series champion Rice University.

The New York Mets tabbed Philip Humber, a 13-game winner whose breaking ball is rated as the best in Rice's abundantly talented rotation.

Jeff Niemann, the Owls' undefeated ace of 2003 who was held back by a groin injury this season, was chosen by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

The 6-foot-9, 260-pound intimidator was a modest 5-3 this season, but prior to his injury he was a popular candidate for Player of the Year honors. Last season, he posted a dominating 17-0 record.

Choosing fifth, the Milwaukee Brewers picked Mark Rogers, a right-handed pitcher who is a two-time Maine Player of the Year and throws 98-mph heat.

Vanderbilt's Jeremy Sowers became the first left-handed pitcher selected when he was Cleveland's pick at No. 6.

A rare young southpaw who relies on pinpoint control, Sowers is a former first-round draft choice of the Reds, who made him the overall No. 20 choice in 2001.

At No. 7, the Reds chose Homer Bailey of LaGrange (Texas) High School.

Homer Bailey
School:
La Grange HS
Position: RHP   B/T: R/R
H: 6-4   W: 185
Born: 1986-05-03   Class: HS
Scouting report:
MEDIUM-LONG FRAME. GOOD BODY. LONG, SLENDER, BUILD. HIGH WAISTED. LONG ARMS. LARGE HANDS. LOOSE, EFFORTLESS ARM. COMFORT ZONE 93-95 W/ LATE SINK. BALL EXPLODES OUT OF HAND. 11/5 CB W/ TIGHT ROTATION, SHARP K ZONE BITE WHEN OUT FRONT. EXCELLENT MOUND PRESENCE. YOUNG RHP W/ EXTREMELY HIGH CEILING. EFFORTLESS POWER ARM W/ PLUS PITCHABILITY.
Scouting video:
56K | 350K

Bailey, who pairs a hard curve with a 97-mph fastball, enjoyed an 11-0 senior season in which he fanned 157 in 66 innings, with only nine walks.

Wade Townsend, the last leg of Rice's notable mound triad, went to the Orioles at No. 8.

One of five finalists for the 2004 Golden Spikes Award, Townsend recently completed the regular season with a perfect 11-0 record, accompanied by an ERA of 1.68.

Wayne Graham, the 67-year-old former Mets third baseman and coach of the Owls, realizes he is bidding farewell to a once-in-a-lifetime staff. But he also realizes he will be watching his proteges in The Show.

"They're as good as Clemens and Pettitte were at the same stage of their careers," said Graham, heaping high praise. "They have pretty much the same projectability as Clemens when he was a junior at Texas. Clemens probably had better command and less stuff than our guys."

Chris Nelson of Redan High School in Stone Mountain, Calif., became the second prep shortstop chosen when the Rockies tabbed him at No. 9.

A solid contact hitter with wide range at the position, Nelson is a converted pitcher who came off the mound following Tommy John surgery.

Rounding out the top 10, the Rangers chose the aptly named Thomas Diamond, a junior right-hander whose mid-90s fastball has movement that has been compared to that of Roger Clemens.

Neil Walker
School:
Pine Richland HS
Position: C   B/T: S/R
H: 6-3   W: 205
Born: 1985-09-10   Class: HS
Scouting report:
SOLID FRAME. STRONG AS A BULL. EXCELLENT PHYSICAL MAKE-UP. BROAD SHOULDERS. MUSCULAR ARMS & LEGS. OUTSTANDING ALL-AROUND ATHLETE. SOME GROWTH POTENTIAL. LINE DRIVE CONTACT FROM LEFT SIDE. QUICK BAT. POTENTIAL PWR. ARM NEAR AVG. SOFT, QUICK HANDS. POTENTIAL PLUS GLOVE, FRAMES WELL. RUNS GAME. AGGRESSIVE ON PATHS. SON OF FORMER MAJOR LEAGUER TOM WALKER. BAT, PWR & GLOVE POTENTIAL.
Scouting video:
56K | 350K

Neil Walker, Pittsburgh's choice at No. 11, is the son of former big-leaguer Tom Walker. He has left a trail of damage as catcher for Pine Richland High School in Gibsonia, Pa., where he is batting .580.

Wolfson High School in Jacksonville, Fla., boasts a pair of first-round picks. Third baseman Billy Butler was chosen No. 14 by the Royals, and the Rangers ended the opening round by selecting his teammate, right-hander Eric Hurley.

Interest in this year's first round was high because of the quick ascension of several selections in last June's draft.

Ryan Wagner pitched for Cincinnati on July 19, Chad Cordero pitched for Montreal on Aug. 30, and Rickie Weeks played for Milwaukee on Sept. 15.

That marked the first time since 1978 that three players reached the Majors in the season of their draft. Then, it had been the Braves' Bob Horner, Mike Morgan and Tim Conroy of the A's, Brian Milner of Toronto and the White Sox's Britt Burns.

Who's got next?

Adjudged closest to reaching the Majors is Taylor Tankersley, a hard-throwing left-handed reliever off Alabama's staff, who was taken No. 27 by the Marlins.

Tom Singer 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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