Until recently, the last week of August was a time when we’d anticipate a handful of prospects joining the major league team to get their feet wet and see how they react to playing at the highest possible level.
However, with the most recent roster rule changes, teams only expand to 28 players on September 1 through the end of the regular season, limiting teams significantly on their additions over previous seasons.
While this is probably a good thing for the pace of play, it’s not beneficial for clubs wanting to know if their blue-chippers have what it takes to compete in the bigs.
And, although it’s been played out to the point where it’s now a cliché, the Dodgers no doubt are the deepest team in the majors. While things could change over the next week, many of us still believe that the 27th and 28th roster spots will go to Blake Treinen and Edwin Rios, a far cry from getting a chance to see a few players in their early 20s making their MLB debuts.
One player who we won’t see in the majors this year is 24-year-old Michael Busch. The lefty-hitting Minnesota native currently ranks as the organization’s fourth-best prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. In the past, many would question why a 24-year-old blue chipper is still in the minors, but let’s not forget that Busch’s wrist injury kept him sidelined for a good portion of 2019, while the coronavirus wiped out the 2020 minor league season entirely.
Last year, Busch’s numbers were admirable, producing a .267/.386/.484 slash line with 27 doubles, 20 long balls and 67 RBI over 495 plate appearances exclusively at the Double-A level.
In 504 PA this year between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City, the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder is slashing an impressive .280/.365/.530 with 28 doubles, 27 homers and 88 RBI, leading many to believe that he’d probably would have earned a few cuts in the majors if he were part of a different organization.
At the beginning of the year, Busch was moving around between left field and second base, but he’s pretty much settled in as OKC’s everyday second baseman.
Those kinds of offensive numbers could warrant Busch as the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year, as he’s leading the entire farm with long balls.
Still, it’s hard to say when Busch will arrive to the majors, regardless of the numbers he puts up. While there’s a reasonable chance that Alberto will not return next year, we know that Muncy, Lux and Taylor will all be back.
Perhaps a lot of Busch’s future could be decided when Trea Turner decides where he will play next season.
If Turner decides to sign elsewhere, it could open a potential door for Busch, at least in a part-time role at second base. Both Busch and Lux hit left-handed, but Busch is profiling as a more prolific power hitter, which could work to his advantage.
In the meantime, we’ll just have to wait and see how things play out at spring training next year.