When the Chicago White Sox drafted Michigan prep star Bryce Bush in the 33rd round of the 2018 MLB Amateur Entry Draft, they figured it’d be unlikely to sign him.
Bush had already committed to play collegiate baseball at SEC powerhouse Mississippi State. He had lasted into the later stages of the draft because teams assumed it’d take a mountain of cash to convince him to ditch that commitment and sign a professional contract.
The White Sox would eventually go well above slot to get him to sign, but through just a few weeks in the system, it’s already looking like $290,000 well spent.
Bush was the No. 52 overall prospect in his high school class according to the evaluators at Perfect Game, and the raw talent he possesses has been on display in two separate rookie ball stops. In 66 plate appearances, Bush is slashing .400/.500/.636 with five doubles, a triple and two home runs.
Even more impressive, Bush has walked nine times while striking out just six. That plate discipline combined with truly eye-popping bat speed make him the kind of prospect who can absolutely factor into the organization’s plans, particularly if he can stick at third base.
With Jake Burger’s injury history making it look more and more like he’ll eventually have to move to first base, the White Sox have a glaring need for third base prospects. While Bush has a lot of work to do to prove that he won’t also eventually have to be moved to the other corner infield spot, he’s going to get a lot of opportunities to learn.
He’s been on the hot corner for every game he’s started as a professional. Even though he’s committed four errors already, he’s got the hands, feet and arm strength that might project long-term at third base.
The other major obstacle he should encounter as he progresses through the system is how his swing will hold up against better pitching. He has a tendency to drop his hands (as well as the rest of his body) when loading and comes at the ball with a pretty steep swing path.
That could eventually lead to issues handling power pitchers comfortable working high in the strike zone with their fastball and then backing it up with breaking balls that start at the same eye level and drop off. But continued productivity as he’s promoted will inevitably ease concerns about all that.
Bush is only 18 years old, and he’s probably got four or five years of development ahead of him in the minor leagues before he sees action at Guaranteed Rate Field. There’s obviously a lot that can happen to derail his career between now and then.
In fact, it’s probably still more likely that he never makes it to the Major Leagues than does. However, as a 33rd-round pick, the White Sox have to be ecstatic about what they’re seeing from him thus far.
He’s still likely to spend a month finishing up his stint in short-season rookie ball, but if the numbers hold you can expect to see him as one of the younger players in Kannapolis to start next season. If he continues showing so much maturity there, there’s no telling how far and how fast he’ll rise through the system.