[Editor’s note: A total of 12 prospects received votes in our True Blue LA community ranking, which we are revealing in reverse order. Second baseman Michael Busch is ranked No. 5.]
Perhaps the most polished bat on this list, Michael Busch enters the community ranking at number five likely based on the height of his floor. A productive college bat that likely slid in the 2019 draft due to positional fit, the Dodgers surprised many when they moved Busch to second base. While his ultimate position may still be in flux, Busch will find a home in the big leagues with easy above average hit and power tools.
Though Busch garners comparisons to Max Muncy given his frame and defensive fit, he brings a more rounded offensive approach than Muncy’s power and on base profile. Busch’s swing has loft, but it is more geared to line drives than other hitters on this list. He’s a disciplined hitter in his own right, but he did show more swing and miss last season while recovering from hand injuries. Because of Busch’s more level swing, he will put the ball on the ground a little more than other Dodgers’ power prospects, and being a left handed hitter with heavy pull tendencies, this could suppress his batting average below his true hitting ability.
Busch has plenty of game power, but this is what separates him from the likes of Muncy. Should he be able to stick at second, he’s fine. Should Busch need to move back to first or even left field, I don’t know how well he fits given the level of competition at those positions. Herein lies my biggest concern with Busch, that I don’t believe he will stick at second base.
Busch is passable now, but with the likely coming ban on the shift, good positioning will only carry his limited range so far. He’s a solid athlete and defensively could be above average at first and possibly fringe average in left, but how often have these Dodgers played “fringe average” defenders consistently in the outfield? The current 40-man roster features five center field capable athletes and a super utility player competing for outfield slots, I just don’t see a significant pathway to outfield bats for Busch in Los Angeles.
None of this is to suggest that Busch isn’t a top prospect, he most certainly is with the bat. What I instead am suggesting is that Busch might be the top trade chip in the farm system. The Dodgers can easily backfill the second base depth chart with more capable defenders in Jorbit Vivas and Eddys Leonard, both already on the 40-man, and the corners stocked with the likes of Miguel Vargas and Andy Pages in the minors behind an already top heavy big league roster. Busch has a high acquisition value thanks to his high floor and near big-league-ready profile, allowing the new team to get almost immediate return for their departing asset.
Until a move or big league opening arises, Busch is likely slated for Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2022, and I would expect him to still take turns at second base and first base. He could see the big leagues this year as a “break glass” player, should someone like Muncy fall to injury and his already rostered replacements struggle to hit. Busch might also be valuable down the stretch as a bench bat given his excellent feel and reachable game power. Finally, there’s also the possibility that I’ve undersold his raw power and development curve, and Busch clubs his way to being an upper division first baseman.