Padres chose 'scrappy' Bisson

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

The term "hockey tough" is used to describe Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash, but the University of Kentucky Wildcats baseball team also knew its second baseman to be made of similar mettle.

It was during an early-season game in San Diego that Chris Bisson took a fastball in the face that broke his nose and landed him in a hospital emergency room within two hours. A week later, the Orleans native was back in the lineup, wearing a mask to protect his swollen mug and being referred to as "hockey tough" by his teammates.

"They thought I'd be out a lot longer," Bisson recalled.

Bisson's determination now has him eyeing a return to San Diego as a member of the Padres -- within 3-4 years he hopes -- after he was selected in the fourth round, 124th overall, of the Major League Baseball draft Tuesday.

The former Ottawa Nepean Canadian becomes the highest- drafted positional player from this area since John Cole some 15 years ago.

"It's unreal," Bisson, a 20-year-old who led the Wildcats in stolen bases and walks while hitting .329 as a junior, said about being drafted into the Bigs. "I didn't think I'd ever have a shot of playing pro ball after my freshman year. I didn't play very much ... and now here I am a junior and drafted in the fourth round.

"It's really exciting. I just wanted to get drafted."

Bisson, who should receive a signing bonus in the $250,000 US range, is likely to play short-season or low-level Single- A ball in either Fort Wayne, Ind., or Eugene, Ore. He was the third second baseman selected in the draft, but also the second by the Padres, who took Jedd Gyorko 59th overall.

"He is a shortstop that they tagged as a second baseman because they had no slots available at shortstop," said Bisson. "He's a great hitter, but I am a better defensive second baseman. I guess the future will tell where I fall in the organization."

Bisson played Little League in Orleans before spending three seasons with the Canadians, where he says he learned a lot from coaches Don Campbell and Tim Nelson.

"He's one of the finest young men I've ever been associated with," said Campbell. "He's worked hard to get where he is. He was really just a softball player in Orleans ... he took up baseball kind of late ... and to become an All- Conference player at such a good school and now (getting drafted by the Padres), it's an incredible success story."

Bisson, who spent the past two days in Toronto with his parents and girlfriend, is a Blue Jays fan who idolized Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter growing up.

He said he expected to be picked by Houston 58th overall, but the Astros decided to "go another route."

Waiting through Tuesday's picks was nerve-racking for Bisson, who admitted to receiving a "ton of text messages" from friends after his name was called by the Padres.

"My phone is going crazy," he said.

Asked about the strength of his game, Bisson didn't hesitate for a second.

"Speed," he said. "I attack the game.

"I describe myself as scrappy. I'm not one of those 6-foot-3, nice-looking prospects all the scouts want to see. I'm 5-foot-11 and scrappy. I'll do anything to win."

And Tuesday, he was a winner.

"All the hard work actually paid off," said Bisson. "The key was not giving up."


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