The Dodgers used the 31st pick in the 2019 draft to select Michael Busch. Even though he only played 15 games at second base during college that was the position the Dodgers drafted him for. In college, he mostly played either first base or left field. His draft profile from MLB Pipeline is as follows.
Busch makes it look easy at the plate. He has a smooth left-handed swing with plenty of bat speed and a patient, balanced approach that allows him to hammer balls to all fields. He should hit for average and power while drawing plenty of walks, and few college players in this Draft have a higher offensive ceiling or floor.
Busch’s Draft status is compromised somewhat by uncertainty about his future home. He’s small for a first baseman and has below-average to fringy speed and arm strength. He’s more athletic than his 6-foot, 207-pound frame might indicate — he starred in football and hockey as well as baseball in high school — and possibly could handle second base (where he played on the Cape) or left field (where he has seen action this spring).
The 2019 season, his first as a professional, lasted only 10 games as he was injured. He also played in the Arizona Fall League after 2019. What is kind of funny is none of his numbers stood out at all.
Why Is He Rising?
So, why is it that we are hearing so much about Busch? It turns out that people that saw him at the Alternate Site or the fall instructionals are extremely impressed. Here is what MLB Pipeline said about him in their top ten second base prospects article.
Busch could provide 25 or more homers on an annual basis thanks to his knack for barreling balls, his combination of bat speed and strength, and his polished approach.
FanGraphs had more to say about him.
But most importantly, Busch really hits, and is probably an everyday player even if he ends up mostly playing left field. He’s patient, tracks pitches well, and has big, strength-driven power. I consider Busch a high-probability big leaguer who could have some years of star-level WAR output if he can play second semi-regularly. – Eric Longenhagen
Baseball America had something to say about him from what they saw of him in the instructional league.
Busch earned universal reviews as the top hitter in Arizona. He took high quality at-bats, turned around upper-90s velocity and showed home run power to center field and both gaps. His balance, bat speed, hand-eye coordination and strike-zone discipline all drew high praise. Evaluators were split on Busch’s defense at second base, but he earned consistent grades as a plus hitter with plus power. – Kyle Glaser
Michael Busch is trending up 📈
Rave reviews on the Dodgers slugger in their new Top 10.
Full list: https://t.co/OQenwDKx3U pic.twitter.com/gdbZ8sGiin
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) January 12, 2021
Some Quick Thoughts
The Dodgers love the type of hitter that Michael Busch seems to be. He is patient and hunts for pitches he likes and then does damage. Think of Max Muncy but with a higher batting average but a little less power. They will both walk a lot. There could still be more power coming as Muncy didn’t develop his power until his late 20s. Busch just turned 23. It will be interesting to see which position he ends up playing. If he can play a serviceable second base and be able to fill in at first base or left field then he fits right in with the Dodgers.
I still want to see more in-game action and results before I totally buy into the hype. However, it is exciting to see a player gain so much traction given such a tough situation in dealing with a pandemic.