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Under the Radar: Bryce Bush

This surprise prep signing could be the steal of the 2018 draft

Punisher: Bryce Bush was hitting well better than .400 for the AZL Sox through August 2.

Under the Radar details players in the Chicago White Sox system who may have suffered setbacks, gotten lost in the shuffle, or just haven’t surfaced as significant prospects as of yet.

Next up is Bryce Bush, who surprisingly — he initially hit up news of his drafting with an “lol” on his Twitter account — signed with the Sox organization as a 33rd-round draft pick from De La Salle High School in Warren, Mich.

Bryce Bush (3B)—Great Falls Voyagers

When teams draft prep stars beyond the 30th round, it’s often done to create good will with those athletes — often with the hopes they would draft him again (and sign him) when he’s re-eligible for the draft. Rarely do these teams expect to sign prep players this late in the draft — especially those committed to an esteemed SEC program.

Thanks in part to the relationship established with the White Sox Area Code team, and in particular the team’s coach (and scout) Justin Weschler, Bush eschewed the Mississippi State Bulldogs in order to sign with the White Sox significantly above slot, at $290,000. The White Sox are already reaping the rewards of this signing coup. In fact, Bush has checked all his boxes and just earned a promotion to Great Falls!

The White Sox signed Bush on July 5 — just four weeks ago. Since then, he has participated in 14 games. Most young athletes face an adjustment period when they begin professional baseball — needless to say, this has not affected Bush one iota.

Beginning with his first game on July 12, Bush has slashed .442/.538/.605 for the AZL White Sox. In 51 plate appearances to date, he has a homer, eight RBIs, eight runs, eight walks (15.69%), four strikeouts (7.84%), and a stolen base.

Yes, his .474 BABIP obviously will decrease with more plate appearances and against stronger competition, but there is a lot to like here. And of course this is an extremely small sample size, but wow, his walks currently double his strikeouts, and he’s only 18! One could say he’s facing younger, inferior competition; however, this would be incorrect, because he is actually 1.5 years younger than league average. This age disparity will only increase with his promotion to Great Falls.

What the scouts are saying

Bush has some of the best pure bat speed in the 2018 class, with lightning quick hands through the zone that he uses to produce lots of hard contact and above-average power. His swing is extremely unorthodox however, with a very low handset and drop in his load and he gets into his launch position at seemingly the last possible second. Combined with a steep uphill bat path, scouts are worried about how Bush’s swing will play as he gets to more advanced levels, though he’s made it work against high-end velocity at times over the summer. A righthanded corner infielder, Bush has an outside shot to stick at third, but most evaluators see him as a first baseman. — Baseball America

Bryce Bush is a 2018 3B/1B with a 6-0 205 lb. frame from Birmingham, MI who attends De La Salle Collegiate HS. Strong athletic build, still has room to get stronger. Right handed hitter, low hand still start, very quick hands create outstanding bat speed, ball explodes off the barrel, has barrel control and the ability to drive the ball long and far, high ceiling hitter. 6.76 runner, clean actions in the infield, plays under control with soft hands and steady feet, gets plenty of carry on his throws. Corner infield tools with the athleticism to play left field as well. Bat is his carrying tool.” — Perfect Game, who ranked him 52nd overall in his high school class

Bush has played third base exclusively with the AZL White Sox, and it will be interesting to see how his defense continues to progress. Bush will be given every opportunity to improve his craft at the hot corner. If he ultimately fails defensively, however, his bat should still produce enough at either first base or left field — with first base being the most viable option due to the lack of current overall system depth at that position. If Bush excels in Great Falls, it’s easy to see him beginning next season with Kannapolis.

It may seem outrageous, and it probably is, but Bush reminds me a lot of a guy who was drafted in the first round by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1986 MLB Draft — Gary Sheffield. Not only are they both right-handed hitting third sackers drafted out of high school, they share other similar traits: size, massive power, rapid-fire bat speed, good speed, and a terrific batting eye. Of course it’s highly unlikely that Bush will have the career that Sheffield enjoyed. However, we can all dream, can’t we?