Some of the finest talent in the Minor Leagues has passed through the Frisco RoughRiders over the last few years. From Rougned Odor to Joey Gallo, as well as the American League’s reigning rookie of the month, Nomar Mazara, there has been no shortage of fresh faced prospects. Many of them finding themselves in the big leagues sooner rather than later.
Many top-flight prospects, including Odor (22), Gallo (22) and Mazara (21) are the same age as many college seniors. Yet each have already had a taste of the major leagues, with Odor playing in his third ML season.
Frisco RoughRiders closer, Matt Bush, has the pedigree to have an impact at the major league level. He was a former number one draft pick, and has a fastball that registers just south of triple digits. But that’s where the similarities end, as Bush’s journey from can’t-miss prospect to incarcerated criminal is close to coming full circle.
Over the past three years, Matthew Brian Bush has spent more time in prison than he has on a diamond. After a minor league career wrought with legal problems, Bush finally hit rock bottom when he ran over a 72-year-old motorcyclist, fled the scene, which got him 51 months in prison.
Flashback to 2004 and Bush, a San Diego native, was thought of so highly by the San Diego Padres, that they took him number one overall in the 2004 Major League Draft. To put that in perspective, Bush was taken ahead of former MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, as well as future All-Stars Jered Weaver, Billy Butler, Homer Bailey, 2005 Rookie of the Year Huston Street, as well as former 20-game winner Gio Gonzalez.
And at the time, Bush was a full-time position player, as displaying quick feet and an outstanding arm as he patrolled shortstop for his Mission Bay High team. Although his bat looked to project well, he’d struggle at the dish almost as much as he struggled off the field.
Almost as soon as he was drafted, Bush fell into more than his fair share of brushes with the law. Fueled by alcohol, he would commit assault at age 19, rack up DUIs and ultimately almost commit vehicular homicide while in the Tampa Bay Rays organization in 2011.
Although the motorcyclist that Bush’s car almost crush survived, he was sentenced to just over four years in jail. This was Bush’s rock bottom, and his stay in prison not only netted him some new tattoos, but also a fresh outlook on life.
Bush was released early, and signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers on December 18, 2015, his fourth team since his minor league debut with the Padres over a decade ago.
When news broke early on Friday that Bush had been promoted to the big league club, it meant not only that a lifelong dream was about to fulfilled, but also that he could now scratch his name off the list of former number one draft picks that failed to make the major leagues—including Brien Taylor and Steve Chilcott.
If his time with the RoughRiders is any sign of his future big league success, then the Rangers might be looking at their future closer. In 12 games this season in Frisco, Bush boasts a 2.65 ERA, with five saves (in five opportunities) an 18:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Although Matt Bush has had his struggles, he’s more than turned the corner. Now, as a member of the Texas Rangers, he can flip the script on his past problems, leaving his demons in the rearview window. Matt Bush the career miscreant, the kid that despite his skills just couldn’t stat out of trouble, is a distant memory. Now fans of the Texas Rangers have a “new” can’t-miss prospect to count as their own. Say hello to Matt Bush, Major Leaguer.