With the minor league regular season nearly all but over, it is important to take stock of how minor leaguers did across the Los Angeles Dodgers system. Some improved their stock and made themselves look like long term contributors to the big league club, or significant pieces in trades. Others have presented genuine questions about their long term future within the organization or have raised the question if people were simply too high on them. In this article we’re going to review the three prospects who improved their stock the most this season for the Dodgers.
Dalton Rushing (A+)
2023 stats - .228/.404/.452, 15 HR, 28 2B, 53 RBI, 72 BB, 93 K
I know the batting average does not jump off the page, but in terms of prospects who most improved their stock for LA, Rushing is at the front of the line. On MLBPipeline, he was not a top 100 prospect at the start of this season. Now, the 2022 2nd round pick is ranked 43rd in all of baseball and is the team’s top prospect on the publication. His .228 batting average will upset some of the old school fans, but his .404 on base percentage is fantastic. He did not sacrifice any power with his patience at the dish either as he hit 15 home runs in 89 games.
Rushing did take a step back in the middle of the season this year, but that regression is likely in large part due to the concussion he suffered in June. Regardless though, Rushing’s strides this year make it fair to wonder if he is the catcher of the future for this Dodgers team.
Michael Busch (AAA/MLB)
2023 AAA stats - .323/.428/.603, 24 HR, 25 2B, 84 RBI, 61 BB, 83 K
It can’t be denied that Busch struggled mightily in the major leagues this year. Across 72 at bats, he had an xBA of just .174 (.167 actual batting average), xwOBA of .260 and a strikeout percentage of 33.3 percent. But it was his first taste of major league action and players traditionally struggle in their first stint, making it difficult to judge him off that.
In the minors though, Busch dominated and nearly improved across the board from last season. His OPS jumped from .881 in 2022 to 1.031 in 2023, his strikeout rate dropped from 26 percent to 18.4 percent and his walk rate went from 11.5 percent to 13.5 percent. Busch is going to turn 26 this off-season so it is tough to see him developing too much more as a prospect, but he has forced himself into the Dodgers 2024 plans with his play this season.
Josue De Paula (A)
2023 stats - .284/.396/.372, 2 HR, 15 2B, 40 RBI, 46 BB, 61 K
De Paula was coming off of a strong rookie ball campaign in 2022 which saw him hit .349, have 32 walks to 31 strikeouts and steal 16 bags. He was not able to replicate those numbers this season, but he was still more than solid, especially for an 18 year old in A-ball. The most impressive part of his sophomore season for me is the fact that he struck out just 61 times in 74 games.
Traditionally, when young players are playing up, meaning they are below the average age of the level, they see a sizable uptick in their strikeouts. But that was not the case for the 2022 signee. The only disappointing part of his season is the fact that he hit just two home runs and had 15 doubles. Although, those numbers will likely see an uptick as he gets older. If he can continue his momentum into next season, there is a very strong possibility De Paula is a top-100 prospect come seasons end.