This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
During an early season Pacific Coast League game at Smith's Ballpark, two scouts in the press box were taking about Salt Lake Bees outfielder Nick Buss.
One told the other Buss was an outstanding golfer and, for a time, he had considered trying it professionally.
Asked later if the scout's recollection of his prowess on the golf course was accurate, Buss laughed.
"No way," he said. "In high school I could play a little bit, but I'm pretty bad right now. I played on my high school team which, in Michigan, is nothing compared to some of the teams you run into out west."
At De La Salle Collegiate High School in Warren Detroit's largest suburb the golf team always qualified for the state tournament but never won it.
"I was banging around in the high 70s," Buss said. "Nothing crazy good."
Apparently, Buss saved being "crazy good" for the first month of the 2016 PCL season.
Heading into Thursday night's game against Sacramento, the versatile outfielder is hitting .333 with seven doubles, three homers and a team-leading 15 RBIs.
Since a 3-for-19 start, Buss has hit safely in 11 of 14 games. He's had nine multi-hit games during the torrid stretch, which has helped the Bees build a 13-7 record.
Salt Lake has already clinched its first winning record in April since 2012, when current Los Angeles Angels stars Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun and Garrett Richards helped the Bees go 14-11 during the first month of the season.
"At this point, you're just trying to find some momentum and be comfortable at the plate," Buss said. "Whether you start slow or fast, it's not ultimately a huge factor. But it's certainly nice to be hitting pretty well. Hopefully I can keep carrying that momentum forward."
In 2008, the Los Angeles Dodgers drafted Buss in the eighth round out of USC. They sent him to Ogden in the Pioneer League, where he hit .279 in 36 games.
Buss worked his way to the Dodgers late in the 2013 season he went 2 for 19 in eight games before being waived the following spring. He spent most of 2014 in Sacramento and 2015 in Reno before signing a minor league contract with the Angels last winter.
"I'd spoken with the Angels before and I knew, obviously, they were a great organization to play for," Buss said. "So I ended up talking to them again during the offseason. That's how I ended up here."
Buss entrenched himself on the Angels' radar during spring training, after he started 9 for 18 at the plate.
"I was glad to be there and get something going," Buss said. "In the spring, you never know how it's going to go. Everybody is trying to get a feel for their swing. But I felt like I was swinging the bat well and got off to a good start."
In March, Angels manager Mike Scioscia told reporters, "Nick is showing well. He's got an interesting tool set as far as what he can do. … He can run. He can play all three outfield positions. He has a good eye at the plate. He has a good idea of what he's doing in the batter's box. He's hit some balls really hard this spring."
Buss is often called "Chili" by his coaches, teammates and friends. The story goes his father once played in a charity golf tournament with former Major League star Chili Davis and liked the name.
The good news?
Chili Buss has been red-hot so far this season.
And the Angels are watching.
The buzz about Buss
Bees outfielder Nick Buss' career statistics in Triple-A:
Year Team Games ABs Runs Hits 2B 3B HR RBIs Avg.
2013 Albuq. 131 459 84 139 29 11 17 100 .303
2014 Albuq. 26 92 12 24 3 3 1 16 .261
2014 Sacra. 110 450 79 138 17 2 4 52 .307
2015 Reno 92 284 43 84 14 3 4 33 .296
2016 Salt Lake 19 72 12 24 7 1 3 15 .333
Salt Lake Bees vs. Sacramento River Cats
P At Smith's Ballpark
Thursday, 6:35 p.m.