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The Worst Draft Pick in History

That's an ugly title to toss at somebody, but there can be little argument that Matt Bush -- No. 1 overall pick of the 2004 draft -- deserves it. I'd feel worse about saying that about a kid, except that this story in the San Diego Union-Tribune about the Padres' cutting ties with him makes him sound quite unworthy of pity.

To sum up his Padres career: It included three off-field altercations (including one that occurred just days after he was drafted), one failed position switch (he was drafted as a shortstop, but was switched to pitcher) and zero major league service time (he has yet to play above Class A).

Bush appears destined to join Brien Taylor (1991, Yankees) and Steve Chilcott (1966, Mets) as the only overall No. 1 picks who failed to reach the majors. However, given his off-field issues, the fact he never got above Class A and the quality of the player picked just after him (Justin Verlander), you could argue Bush is the worst draft pick in any sport, ever -- yes, worse than Ryan Leaf or Sam Bowie or Kwame Brown or Tony Mandarich.

At the time of the draft, the Padres were thought to prefer shortstop Stephen Drew and pitcher Jered Weaver but were worried about the high signing bonuses they were seeking (both were represented by Scott Boras), and ultimately went the cheaper route by selecting Bush, who also happened to be a local San Diego kid.

Here's hoping another San Diego kid poised to be the top pick this June turns out better.

By Dave Sheinin  |  February 6, 2009; 3:33 PM ET
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Where did Verlander play his college ball?

Posted by: Freedog | February 6, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I have to go with Chilcott. Reggie Jackson was the player selected after him. Besides, nobody thought Bush was the best player available. He was just a local kid they could afford.

Posted by: markhj111 | February 6, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Is it even fair to put Taylor in that group? Wasn't his issue a career ending injury while he was in the minors? 2 years of 160+ innings as a 20-21 year old, a missed year, then never over 40 innings again.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 6, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Verlander played ball for Old Dominion Univ. in Norfolk, VA. and grew up just west of Richmond.

Posted by: riverpoint2 | February 6, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

I think Shawn Abner, #1 by the Mets in 1984 was the worst pick ever, considering he hit 11 HRs in his 6 years (none of them with the Mets) and Mark McGwire was picked #10 the same year.

Posted by: damannion | February 7, 2009 3:49 AM | Report abuse

jca, your point about Taylor is well taken, but I do think it's fair to put him on the list of overall No. 1 picks who failed to reach the majors because he was picked No. 1 overall and failed to reach the majors.

There are all sorts of reasons a draftee can crap out; getting hurt is one of them.

Posted by: Scooter_ | February 7, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Jeff Allison. HS POY and 14th pick in the 2003 draft. Has alternated years between sub-par pitching performances and drug rehabilitation.

Posted by: cprferry | February 7, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Claus von Stauffenberg. Talk about having a pick blow up in your face.

Posted by: CEvansJr | February 7, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Taylor got hurt in a bar brawl (I think he was defending his brother who got jumped by some guys or something).

I think if Bush is still hitting 90+ on the gun, and gets out of San Diego (where he can be away from the comfort of his home setting and maybe gain some humility and get a little help) he could still amount to something at some point.

As a Pirates fan, I wouldn't mind seeing if he's worth the investment.

Posted by: tdavis2 | February 7, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Uhh, I faced Brien Taylor in the NC State High School Semifinals and he was Dwight Gooden, only Brien was left handed! I was a lefty hitter and was one of our better hitters and I touched him once in 4 innings. I fouled him off hard directly over the on deck circle. I had never seen a fastball from a lefty like that. His curve ball was unhittable. We got one hit, a single up the middle. They took him out with an 8-0 lead in the 4th b/c the finals was in 2 days. We came back on their reliever and nearly caught them 8-7. Brien Taylor hurt his shoulder in a bar fight within 24 mths and was never the same. He would have been Dwight Gooden, only better based on his stuff. IMO of course.

Posted by: ncstu2003 | February 11, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

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