Padres draft Bush Jr. 32 years after picking his father

July 11th, 2023

Like father, like son.

Thirty-two years after the Padres selected in the 1991 Draft, they picked his son, Homer Bush Jr., in the fourth round on Monday afternoon. Bush Jr. was one of seven selections made by San Diego on Day 2 of this week's MLB Draft.

"Man, words can't even express how excited we are as a family he was drafted by the Padres," said Bush Sr.

Following his selection in the seventh round in 1991, Bush Sr. spent parts of six years in the Padres' system. He was dealt to the Yankees in 1997, then had an impressive seven-year big league career with New York, Toronto and Florida.

Now serving as manager for the Staten Island FerryHawks in the independent Atlantic League, Bush Sr., speaking from a bus en route to North Carolina, said his son had found the perfect landing spot with San Diego.

"We've gotten to know the organization well,” Bush Sr. said. “... This is where he wanted to be. So the fact that he could get drafted in a respectable spot with the organization he wanted to be with, it's almost too good to be true."

Bush Jr. boasts many of the same skills as his father. Like dad, he's a right-handed-hitting speedster. Bush Jr. ran the fastest 30-yard dash time at MLB's Draft Combine last month. He, too, is mostly a contact hitter. But there’s potential for Bush Jr. -- and his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame -- to grow into a bit more power than his father.

In his junior season at Grand Canyon University, Bush Jr. reached base at a .478 clip. He recorded 19 doubles, three triples, a pair of homers and swiped 25 bags.

It was the leap forward the Padres envisioned for Bush Jr. when they invited him to a pre-Draft camp in the summer of 2022. He was coming off a disappointing finish to his sophomore season at Grand Canyon, and, the way Bush Sr. tells it, that invite from San Diego was just the pick-me-up Bush Jr. needed before he began his ascent up league-wide Draft boards.

"When Junior was at his lowest point after his sophomore season, the Padres invited him to a pre-Draft camp, and he couldn't believe it," Bush Sr. recalled. "He was like: 'I was just sitting bench in the regionals, and I've got a Major League Baseball team asking me to come to a pre-Draft camp?' ... That gave him a lot of motivation and energy and confidence to go compete with some of the best players in the country."

And, naturally, Bush Sr. would've been happy to see his son get drafted anywhere. But this was the right fit -- and he knows the feeling. It's the same one he had 32 years ago.

"For me, there were a ton of teams interested," Bush Sr. said. "But there was one team that was like, 'Hey, you want to take this call.'"

Of course, Bush never played a game for the Padres. His fondest memory of baseball in San Diego came from the visitors' dugout where his Yankees won the 1998 World Series at Qualcomm Stadium. Bush, a fabled pinch-runner during the Yanks' dynasty, made two appearances in that World Series, but he didn't record an at-bat.

"I had a front-row seat," he recalled. "I didn't have anything to do with it. But I was watching every pitch, every play. Every pitch felt like the seventh game. I couldn't believe the intensity. ... The World Series was different."

Three years after Bush Sr. earned his lone World Series ring, Homer Jr. was born. Homer Sr. returned to the Padres organization for one season in 2014 as a Minor League hitting coach. He’s spent most of the past decade in various jobs within the sport, typically in player development.

So he knows an exciting prospect when he sees one. And, sure, Bush Sr. is a bit biased on this one. But he thinks that’s exactly what the Padres are getting.

“For this to be coming to fruition, it's special,” Bush Sr. said. “I'm not only just raising a baseball player, I'm raising a young man. He'll be able to take this experience [and grow]. It's bigger than just today. It's about his future ... I think he understands the process, and he'll continue to work his process and be coached up by professionals now."