Dodgers Prospect Watch: What Lies Ahead for Michael Busch?

So far this winter, most of our prospect talk has surrounded pitching and catching, which always seems to make up the higher rankings of the Dodgers’ farm. However, with Corey Seager now out of the shortstop picture, some of the emphasis could switch to the middle infield spots, if things ever get rolling again roster-wise.

One prospect who previously grabbed a lot of attention but faded a bit recently is 24-year-old lefty-hitting Michael Busch. After a slow start to his 2020 campaign, the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder rebounded to slash .267/.386/.484 with 27 doubles, 20 long balls and 67 RBI at Double-A Tulsa last year, which is notoriously known as one of the friendliest pitcher’s parks in the Midwest League.

As a matter of fact, Busch found his season average as low as .217 in the beginning of July before he finally started putting things together. In September, he hit a whopping .413/.491/.739 to finish out a solid season while holding down the team’s No. 3 prospect ranking, according to most of the major outlets.

One of the biggest differences last year might have been the time he spent at first base, a spot he hadn’t seen action at since his college days at the University of North Carolina. When the smoke settled on the 2021 season, Busch, the 31st overall pick of the 2019 MLB draft, appeared in eight games as DH, 11 games at first base, and 88 games at the keystone, the spot that many pundits thought he had a chance to excel.

Nevertheless, for Busch to make an impact in the majors, he’ll probably need to leapfrog some talent and improve in a few areas, especially in terms of his batting splits. Career-wise against lefties, he’s hitting just .198/.355/.354 against southpaws while batting .288/.396/.524 against right-handers.

On defense, Busch has shown vast improvement, specifically at second base, which is still a relatively new spot for him. Last year, he committed just seven errors in 312 total chances playing second. Busch had an average arm when he was drafted, but scouts feel he has made significant strides with his strength and release over the past two years.

As far as the MLB infield depth chart goes, the big topic of conversation is what might happen at second base. Every year there always seems to be chatter about Chris Taylor seeing regular time at the keystone, but skipper Dave Roberts sees more value in CT as an everyday utility guy. We’ve seen some sparks of offensive talent from Gavin Lux, but he always seems to regress one step backwards after making some significant progress.

The Dodgers added 23-year-old middle infielder Jacob Amaya to the 40-man roster in November to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, giving him perhaps an edge over Busch as far as MLB arrival time goes. However, the righty-hitting Amaya has yet to see time above the Double-A level.

Then, there’s always the chance Los Angeles surprises everyone and signs somebody like Freddie Freeman. A move like that could push Max Muncy over to second base, making it difficult for guys like Lux and Zach McKinstry, both lefty hitters, to see significant playing time.

Busch is listed on the Tulsa roster right now, but my guess is that he’ll see most of his action at Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2022, where the hitter-friendly confines of the Pacific Coast League could inflate his offensive numbers. If he finds a way to improve against lefty pitching, there might be a chance he has a cup of coffee in the majors at some point of the year.

31 thoughts on “Dodgers Prospect Watch: What Lies Ahead for Michael Busch?

  1. I had no idea that Busch’s splits against southpaws were that weak. That’s not a good sign. Hopefully, he can make some major improvements in that area, just as he has with his fielding.

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  2. Lets get some baseball moving here. Cmon Manfred, you and the MLBPA need to get your collective stuff together and hammer out an accord. Bob Saget passed away today as did Dwayne Hickman who was Dobie Gillis on TV. He also co starred in Cat Ballou.

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  3. 24 year old AA player. I think he might be Gavin Lux part deux without the speed or glove.

    ZiPS Top 5 Teams by Total WAR

    Dodgers 49.4
    Yankees 48.3
    Mets 47.8
    Astros 45.3
    White Sox 45.3

    We’re still projecting well.

    Damm Rams. Backed into the Division, that’s good, and thank you Seattle, but lost the 2 seed. I don’t think they’re tough enough to go far in the playoffs.

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      1. I just read Jordan Rodrigue at the Athletic and I think she pinned it down. The Rams have elite players at several key positions but they have weaknesses that can, and are, exploited. They have the best defensive lineman in all of football but can’t stop the run. They have the best corner in the game but have holes in their secondary. They have a quarterback that cost multiple first round picks, and had thrown for a lot of yards and a lot of touchdowns but turns the ball over at an alarming rate. They don’t have their first string running back or their #2 receiver. They are all in on a team that is currently not Super Bowl worthy. So, now what?

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      2. I totally agree with what Jourdan Rodrigue says. Their strategy of trading all of their upcoming draft picks for All Stars strengthens the team at some positions and weakens it at others.
        By the way, Jourdan is a female, and in my opinion, the best there is at her particular job. She really does amazing work.

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      3. The Rams have defensive holes and tend to turn over the ball. The team as stated has some incredible players and a weak supporting cast. To win the Super Bowl you must be able to defend and they have shown they cannot consistently do that. I doubt they get to the NFC Championship let alone the Super Bowl.

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      4. “Jourdan is a female”. I knew that. My bad. Her picture is right there with every article.

        I read that piece. Ramsey is one of those guys that speaks his mind, and I would love to hear his answer to these questions: “what do you think of a. the Rams up the middle defense and b. what’s your take on the Rams 4th quarter offense.”

        I think the Rams need a middle linebacker and better safety play. They also need to tackle better. Stafford needs to protect the possessions better. And McVay, you’ve got the lead ABPND the ball with 90 seconds left. One first down and you’re taking a knee, What does do? The one thing that hasn’t worked all day. Too late to fix all that for a playoff run.

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  4. According to the link you sent us from Baseball America, thank you, Dennis. They consider Busch and Vargas the two best hitters in their Dodger top 30. Vargas is a true hitter. His splits are very good and he hits from the right side and hits lefties well. Vargas can play 1st and they are hoping he can improve his footwork at 3rd which he is currently playing.
    I agree Busch’s splits are a concern. I am hoping to see Vargas at the end of the season. The young man has a great frame at 6″3′ and his father was a star in Cuba. I am not as bullish on Busch. As someone mentioned here he looks to be a slower Lux.

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    1. I can usually appreciate your 25-year-old rule, but Busch broke his wrist not long after he was drafted, causing him to miss just about all of the season’s second half. There was no minor league ball at all last year, although he did spend time at the alternate site. So, basically, he played only one full minor league season, which was last year. I think that year off last season pushed back the arrival clock for a lot of prospects, not just ones in the Dodgers’ system.

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      1. All of that is true Dennis. I think there’s no doubt this guy can hit. He won’t be 25 until this season is over, so hopefully he will have a full year at age 24 to kick the door down. The question remains, what position does he play? If we can sign Turner long term, we have Lux to play to second and Muncy to play first. If we sign Freeman, then Muncy can play second. I think Lux can play anywhere, so by ‘23 he could be in the outfield. For that matter so could Busch. But Pages might be the choice there. If we don’t sign Turner it’s conceivable we have a lineup of Betts, Lux, Bellinger, Muncy, Smith, Busch, Vargas and Pages. I doubt it comes down like that, but, it’s possible.

        Much should come clear by mid year but it would appear Busch could indeed be a trade chip.

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      2. Don’t forget about Luis Rodriguez in the outfield. He might be as good as Pages, although he’s about a year behind.

        Looks like Jake Vogel is already turning into a Jeren Kendall type with his inability to hit, so I guess he’ll soon be out of the prospect picture.

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      3. I think the bloom has come off the rose with Rodriguez, Dennis. He’s two years older than Jose Ramos and hasn’t even left Arizona yet for Rancho. He had a pretty bad year in Az last year also.

        Or were you actually speaking about Ramos and just inserted the wrong guy’s name?

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      4. So much that would have been determined about these guys wasn’t because of Covid. And Covid is still here. Add the CBA negotiations dragging on and predicting anything becomes impossible. Especially from our chairs.

        The internal discussions are going on. Players are working out and being observed. Is this Lux’s year or does he continue to stall. Busch, Miller, Pepiot. Pages, Vargas, Rios. Jansen, Kershaw. David Price. Trevor Bauer. Alex Vesia. Heck even Max Muncy is questionable.

        This is a time when we start talking about pitchers and catchers reporting and we don’t know squadush for sure. Frustrating time for baseball fans. Actually frustrating times for everyone.

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  5. From The Athletic

    What a deal for Trea Turner might look like:

    “Perhaps there’s some middle ground. Rather than 10 years, or even seven, maybe he goes for eight years. If smashing the record for total money for a shortstop isn’t feasible, perhaps an AAV mark for the position is a valid benchmark. A total of $280 million over eight seasons would represent an AAV of $35 million, a figure that matches Rendon for the most ever for an infielder (and second-highest ever for a position player, behind Mike Trout).”

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    1. That’s a deal that might appeal to Andrew. Question is would it appeal to Turner and would he settle for less than 300 mil. I’m not so sure that he would because at 8 years it would almost definitely be his last contract. The one positive here is that Boras is not his agent.

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      1. We don’t have any real good shortstop prospects in the system, although Bogaerts will probably opt out after this year and Dansby Swanson will hit free agency. I’d much rather have Trea than either of them and I think a healthy Mookie plus a healthy Trea hitting 1-2 in the lineup would really be tough on opposing pitchers. If they ever institute that limitation of 3 throws to first per batter, runners will really be at an advantage. Let’s do it!

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  6. Rays bullpen catcher, Jean Ramirez died at age 28. RIP, That is way too young. Got a Ted Williams collection Gil Hodges card today. Pretty cool.

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  7. Orioles moving the left field fence at Camden Yards back 30 feet and raising the height of the wall to 12 feet. It is currently 7 feet high.

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      1. The outfielders are thinking they’ll need some time to get used to it.
        The pitchers are thrilled.
        The hitters (especially the right handed hitters) are pissed.
        Math is not my strong suit but 30 feet back and 5 feet higher sounds like a lot of lost homers to me.

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      2. Just looking at the ball yard there. It says it’s 364 to straight away left, 410 to center. 30 more feet with a 12’ wall? That will become an enormous area to cover, and you’re right, home run numbers will be going down.

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  8. I see the owners and players are going to talk Thursday, about league minimum and QO compensation. Those are fairly small items when it comes to economic issues. I’m sure the owners always planned on the minimum going up, and they also knew QO compensation adjustment was going to be part of any new agreement from the players stand point. I doubt if this meeting will be earth shaking but as long as the owners offer isn’t insulting ( which is what all of the owners previous offers have been) they can hopefully get going on some of the tougher issues soon.

    I personally think the players need to put their focus on getting the tax threshold raised substantially, and the punitive damages lowered, that is what is holding down team spending. The other hot button issue I would like to see something happen with is the playing time start for young players. What the cubs did to kris Bryant was a travesty, players shouldn’t play all season except for a handful of games, and not get credit for the season. The players don’t need to lower the FA from six years to five, they just need to stop the owners from stealing a year from all of these young players in their first year, like they have been for the past several years. I feel like the Dodgers don’t play that game, if a player can help the team they bring him up.

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    1. https://www.mlb.com/glossary/transactions/service-time

      From the view of a guy who never had a guaranteed contract, even when I belonged to a union, these rules don’t seem unreasonable to me. I’m sure if I were a member of THAT union, or a billionaire owner, my views would change.

      Depending on when you get them, out of college, out of high school or off a playground, 6 years of control can take a player into the middle of his prime earning years or right up to them. The low budget teams are no doubt pissed about drafting and developing young stars only to lose them to richer franchises when they hit their prime. Depending on the age of the player, an extra year or two of arbitration seems fair. Raise the cap every year. Kind of like raising the debt ceiling maybe? Just accept it and do it. Also, minor league players need a living wage. I know that varies, and some guys get substantial signing bonuses, but you are a low round pick working your ass off for a living you should get a living wage. Not sure how that’s done as an A League player in LA County is going to need more money than an A League player in Mississippi. I’m sure there’s more I could think of but it’s early and I haven’t had my second cup.

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      1. Some good points you make considering you’ve only had one cup, but then maybe I think they’re good because I haven’t even had my first one yet.

        Since teams put so much money and effort into working with their young players, more arbitration years definitely feels like a good compromise rather than losing them to free agency earlier. Now, the only question is whether they’ll be using the McConnell-Schumer rules of compromise, meaning there won’t be one.

        Your point about the variance of a living wage depending upon location is a very valid one, but they are currently so far below what even works in Mississippi right now that a good step up this year would at least help everyone.

        Liked by 1 person

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