Widely viewed as one of the biggest busts in draft history, Matt Bush’s legacy has been further cemented with news that the 26 year old will serve at least the next three years in prison stemming from an off field incident this past March. The result of a plea agreement will effectively end Bush’s baseball career, though some could argue that it’s been over for quite some time.
Selecting with the very first pick in the 2004 Draft, the San Diego Padres exercised caution (or were cowards, in the eyes of many Padres fans) and chose to use their pick safely. There were other prospects that were being highly touted heading into the draft, but the team was reportedly fearful of negotiating with a Scott Boras client so they elected to use the pick on Bush, a local product who was considered among the best shortstop prospects available that year. Bush signed for a $3.15 Million bonus and would begin his professional career later that summer. He’d start out batting just .192/.296/.253 over his first 119 plate appearances, but the start of his off field problems would also begin that summer when he would be suspended by the team for getting into a fight outside of an Arizona bar.
Bush would spend the 2005 season with San Diego’s Class-A affiliate, appearing in 126 games and seeing 495 plate appearances. He’d bat just .221/.279/.276 on the year, with just 15 extra base hits. Most concerning, however, were the 38 errors that he’d make in the field. Bush simply looked overmatched and disinterested, a concerning combination.
Over the next two seasons Bush would fare so poorly at the plate and in the field that San Diego would end up converting him into a pitcher, something he hadn’t done since high school. Naturally Bush would blow out his elbow, requiring Tommy John Surgery that would cause him to miss most of the 2006 and 2007 seasons. He’d eventually be involved in another off field incident, resulting in a public intoxication charge stemming from a tirade outside of a local high school in Southern California shortly before the team chose to deal him to the Toronto Blue Jays (a team he’d never actually appear in a game for over two seasons). Eventually he’d join the Tampa Bay Rays on a minor league contract prior to the 2010 season.
This past March Bush was involved in a hit-and-run accident in Southern Florida. Driving former teammate Brandon Guyer’s SUV, Bush struck a motorcyclist and proceeded to speed away from the scene, essentially running over the man’s head in the process according to witness statements. If it weren’t for the fact that he was wearing a helmet, it’s likely that the 74 year old man Bush hit would have been killed. When Bush was found later on, he was charged with DUI and a host of other charges and has been held on a $440,000 bond since. He and Guyer, who did not know Bush didn’t have a valid driver’s license, are also involved in a $5 Million lawsuit that remains pending from the victim’s family.
The plea agreement will leave Bush to serve a minimum of three years in prison, on top of time he’s already served.