The shortstop got off to a slow start, mainly because of off the field problems that cost him valuable time. The Padres suspended Matt Bush two days before he was scheduled to take the field and he did not get into a game until a month later. He debuted on July 21 and went 1-for-4 with a stolen base. He also committed his first error of the year – one of many he would unveil during the shortened year.
"You see a guy with tools," Waller said.
Bush, however, struggled in Peoria. He had just three multi-hit games in twenty-one games. He didn't top .235 in average after his first game of the year. He ended his season with just 13 hits in 72 at bats, a .181 average. He did knock in ten, score twelve and walk 11 times but his consistency at the plate was non-existent. His longest hitting streak lasted just three games. He did, however, have two four game walk streaks.
The bat just wasn't there. Bush had a stretch of eight games that saw him go 1-for-27. Coming from high school, the game in Peoria turned out to be far different than his Mission Bay roots.
"I started out – my swing got real long in high school because of the aluminum bat," Bush said. "Everyone is always swinging for the fences. With the wooden bat – that didn't help out at all. I was flying out to right a lot."
Injuries also hampered Bush. But his defensive game was far more alarming than the offense.
Bush committed ten errors in his first 18 games with Peoria and when he was promoted to Eugene, his defense actually got worse. Bush committed errors in each of his first six Emerald games and after a one game hiatus, had one more in his eighth and final game of the year. That gave him seven in Eugene and 17 in 29 games overall.
"You see a guy who definitely has an arm – that can throw a ball across the diamond. I think we have get him used to the speed. This game is a lot faster than he experienced at Mission Bay high school, that is for sure.
"He will get plenty of ground balls between now and next year. Tons of instruction between now and next year and hopefully if his work ethic is as good as I heard it was, he will continue it past Instructional League and work on it all winter long and show progress from where he ended the season.
Luckily, his hitting began to come around with the Ems. He hit .222 in Eugene but his strike outs, not a concern in Peoria, went up – he whiffed eight times in his final three Emerald games.
The promotion, though, was a surprise. His play in Peoria hadn't proved he belonged.
"I wanted Matt Bush to see what it was like to go play in front of crowds with college like crowds," Waller said. "Being able to see what the game is like, there is no surprising him what the expectations are, at least for the Eugene level. That is worth a ton. It really is."
The season for Bush was one littered with frustration. After being selected at the top of the draft, his status went down. From the suspension to his play, it was a forgettable season. It isn't out of this world to think he was pressing too hard in Peoria. When his suspension was lifted, Bush aimed to prove the Padres were justified in picking him. He proved that he has a lot to learn.
"We start now and work our way to what he is going to become," Waller said. "There is a lot of work between Peoria and San Diego – Petco Park. We just need the time."
Denis Savage can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Padres scouting report: Matt Bush
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