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.
However, the presence of guys like Gavin Lux, Max Muncy, Hanser Alberto and maybe even Chris Taylor have Busch blocked completely.
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.
7 thoughts on “Dodgers Prospect Watch: Michael Busch Still Producing at Triple-A Oklahoma City”
Great points Dennis. I wish they would allow at least 3 more slots at the end of the year. It would be fun to see Busch, Vargas and ? Show their talent and as a reward for a great year. IfT Turner re-signs Busch would get good value in a trade. If T Turner goes elsewhere do they move Lux to SS and bring up Vargas & Busch?
I think they should boost it to thirty. That gives teams the chance to reward their best minor leaguers with the MLB experience for a month. No one needs more than that.
I’ve been surprised that in recent years players on the IL are allowed to be on the bench. So when you combine active roster, IL players, and minor league call-ups after Sep 1, plus coaching/support persons, you’ll need a traffic director in the dugout.
Players on the IL are allowed on the bench simply because they are still members of the team and the team trainers and medical personnel are helping them get healthy. Space not so much a problem at Dodger Stadium, but somewhere like Wrigley or Fenway with the antiquated stadiums, it would be much more of a problem.
Think tmaxster is right. Busch has good trade value and if there is no spot for him he’ll be gone. Sitting on the bench, his trade value will disappear. Will be interesting to see if the dodgers value him. Right now Busch and Vargas are our 2 best prospects and Vargas should be up next not Rios in my opinion. Nice to know if a prospect is a prospect at age 23 not age 26.
With the shift supposedly going away next season, I think infield defense will be more important than ever. It’s already assumed that hitting averages will go up for guys like Muncy and Bellinger who tend to pull everything, but that also means that it will be important to have infielders with good range.
I admit I’ve never seen Busch play second base, but I’d much rather see Trea at short, Lux at second and Busch in left or at DH if he’s going to become a regular on this team. If not, he will certainly have some good trade value.
May get’s Alcantra on Saturday. Must watch TV.