Padres go high school route

The Padres surprisingly took three high school products with their first three picks. It was a change of philosophy that Bill "Chief" Gayton alluded to in a press conference to introduce their number one pick, Matt Bush who called it "a dream come true." The team had placed a premium on college players who could help the San Diego Padres in short order and now that the upper levels and the big club are bearing the fruits, they have been able to shift philosophies.

Matt Bush, all 5-foot-11 of him, was the high school target the Padres coveted and were able to take a flier on because of their increased depth at the Major League level.

"We felt the highest ceiling was at the high school level," director of scouting Bill "Chief" Gayton said. "When we took Bush with the first pick, it just set up a number of doors down the line and go with high school players. We were able to get upside, depth and set up for the future. We were in a position to go young in the draft and we did."

The Padres went high school with the first three picks in the draft, something they have never done before.

"Because we had been a heavy college team, we could fly under the radar when we scouted (Bush)," Gayton added. "Choosing all those college players the previous years gave us the option this year to go any direction we chose."

Bush didn't need directions to make it down to Petco Park for his press conference. He was minutes away. Surrounded by an entourage that included his immediate family and a cousin plus his former head coach at Mission Bay, Bush was introduced and looked every bit as green as an 18 year old should in front of reporters and cameras.

Minutes later, Bush was an old pro telling stories about his childhood.

The plan is to use the two-way prospect as a shortstop and nothing else. At least that is what the Padres are saying right now. Gayton and Towers both dodged questions about his eventual position with Khalil Greene firmly entrenched as the Padre shortstop.

Bush batted .450 (55-for-123) with 11 doubles, one triple, 11 home runs, 35 RBI and 12 stolen bases in his senior season, leading the Buccaneers to a second San Diego Section Division III championship in three years. He also set several state records during his prep career, including hits (211) and runs scored (196), finishing with 24 career home runs.

"I wanted to be a Padre and this is a dream come true," Bush said. "This is my hometown team, the team I root for."

He wanted it so bad he made the call to the scout that had been tailing him and told the scout how much he wanted to be a Friar.

"That put it over the top," General Manager Kevin Towers said.

"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.

Denis Savage can be reached at denis@sandiegosports.net

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