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White Sox Prospect Spotlight: Ky Bush

by Thatcher Zalewski

The Birmingham Barons have been the talk of the farm this year for the White Sox, and rightfully so, while being headlined by a pitching staff that features many top names. Two of the top pitching prospects, Drew Thorpe and Mason Adams, have been the two names in the spotlight despite the whole rotation finding plenty of success. However, there is a name that many fans may have forgotten about or written off early on, Ky Bush.

Bush, was acquired back in 2023 at the trade deadline in a deal that sent Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez over to the Los Angeles Angels. At the time, he was the number two prospect in the Angels system just behind Edgar Quero. Things did not get off to the best start for Bush once he joined the Barons rotation. Despite his shaky start with the Barons, Bush has seemingly turned things around for the better in 2024 and is a name White Sox fans should start to get familiar with.

2023 Season Breakdown

Ky Bush split time in Double-A with the White Sox and Angels in 2023. One of the main things Bush struggled with was his command. During his stint with the Rocket City Trash Pandas, Bush recorded a BB/9 of 4.85, BB% of 12.6%, and a WHIP of 1.42. With the Barons, Bush had a BB/9 of 4.75, BB% of 11.6, and a WHIP of 1.68. During his 2023 campaign, Bush averaged a BB/9 of 12.1% which was 5.3% higher than what he posted in Double-A in 2022.

In addition to Bush struggling with his command, it also led to a dip in his strikeout numbers. Bush had a K% of only 19.0% during his run with the Barons, which is a 10 percent decrease from his time with the Trash Pandas in 2023. Bush was averaging 11.42 K/9 with the Trash Pandas then only averaging 7.78 K/9 with the Barons. Not only did the walk numbers increase, but the strikeouts were seemingly lost for Bush. 

Another issue that arose for Bush during 2023 is that his FIP jumped from 4.29 in 2022 to 6.26 with the two teams in 2023. His FIP tells a lot about his campaign last year as FIP isolates the pitcher from the fielder. However, Bush did miss time prior to that with a lat injury, which could have played a role in his struggles. Opponents also raised their batting average against Bush from 2022 to 2023. When Bush joined the Barons rotation in 2023, opponents batted .289 through 41.2 IP against him. 

It is safe to say that when Bush entered the White Sox system things did not get off to the best start.

2024 Season Analysis

Bush’s current stat line this year for the Barons currently sits at a 4-2 record, 2.18 ERA, 10 games started, and 65 strikeouts through 57.2 innings pitched. That stat line is drastically different from what Bush put together during the 2023 season. Let’s look into what changed for the left-hander.

Bush has seemingly found his command with the Barons this year which has elevated him into one of the top arms in their rotation. Bush has dropped his BB/9 from 4.75 to 3.59, BB% from 12.1% to 10.0%, and his WHIP from 1.55 to 1.09. Bush is pounding the zone with his fastball and locating. The location for him is the biggest part of his arsenal as he isn’t known as the flamethrower of that rotation. 

Sticking with his command, Bush’s strike-out numbers have seen a huge jump as his K% is now at 28.4% this through 10 starts. Bush is also now averaging 10.14 K/9 and is stranding runners 78.6% of the time. These numbers are very similar to what he was averaging when he first made his debut in the Angels system which was the numbers that turned him into one of the Angels’ top prospects. 

Looking at Bush’s FIP, it now sits at a much more palatable 3.07. For comparison, Mason Adams’ FIP currently sits at 3.55 for the Barons, so it is safe to say that the improvements Bush is exhibiting this season are legitimate. His xFIP furthers that evidence, sitting at 3.30. Because there isn’t much disparity between the two numbers, we can assume that there isn’t much luck involved with Bush’s success this year, he is just doing that good. 

Another big change for Bush this year is that he is almost eliminated giving up the long ball. During his 2023 campaign, he averaged 2.12 HR/9. Bush isn’t even allowing a single HR/9 as now he sits at 0.47. Allowing not even half a home run per nine innings compared to the two he was averaging last season is a big reason for Bush’s 2024 turnaround.

What to look forward to

Ky Bush is a name White Sox fans should continue to familiarize themselves with. With many potential trades looming at the major league level, not only with the starting rotation but the bullpen as well, Bush seemingly is in line for a call-up at some point this season. Whether he appears in the rotation or out of the pen, whenever the call-up happens fans should get excited when that news is announced. 

For more about the White Sox top prospects, make sure to follow us @PipelineTo35th!

Featured image: @BhamBarons/X

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