Padres grab home talent with top pick

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

NEW YORK -- The San Diego Padres' decision to make hometown high school shortstop Matt Bush the No. 1 pick in Monday's draft came down to overall talent -- and more importantly, money.

Leading up to the draft, the Padres said they narrowed their choices to three college players, including Florida State shortstop Stephen Drew and Long Beach State right-hander Jered Weaver.

Instead, they selected the strong-armed Bush from Mission Bay High School, located just minutes from Petco Park.

"I hope to get out here in a couple of years and prove to everybody I'm a major league player and that I deserved to be the No. 1 pick in the draft," Bush said.

Padres general manager Kevin Towers acknowledged that signability played a major role, as agent Scott Boras represents both Drew and Weaver, whose brothers already are high-paid big leaguers.

The Padres were said to be close to signing Bush to a bonus worth around $3.15 million. Both Drew and Weaver were believed to be asking for significantly more than Bush.

"Ultimately you've got to put a value on a player," Towers said. "There were players we had focused on and we had heard that there were expectations that were far higher than where we thought they should be."

Weaver, brother of Dodgers pitcher Jeff Weaver, fell to Anaheim at No. 12 -- two picks higher than his brother went in 1999 to Detroit.

"I just kind of figured money kind of scared them off, the rumors," Weaver said of San Diego. "It was always in the back of my mind that picking Scott, something could happen. But I trust him and he's the best in the business. Everything worked out great."

Drew went to Arizona with the 15th pick and joined brothers J.D. and Tim as the first trio of sibling first-rounders in draft history. He's hitting .353 with 17 homers and 55 RBIs for the Seminoles.

Rice was puffed up about its three pitchers taken in the opening round: Philip Humber, Jeff Niemann and Wade Townsend. Never before had a school produced three of the first eight picks.

"It's something that probably won't ever happen again," Humber said. "It's an amazing deal and an honor for us. It's kind of neat to go down in history with those guys."

Bush, who also pitched, was the first high school shortstop selected with the top pick since Seattle took Alex Rodriguez in 1993. His defensive abilities and strong arm put him at the top of the draft.

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