2021 Dodgers Top 50 Prospects: No. 2, 2B Michael Busch

Michael Busch. Photo by: Cody Bashore

And then there were two. Yes, just two players left in this Top 50 Dodgers’ prospects countdown, and he has a chance to be a good one.

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Previous Entries

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I’ve included Future Value (FV) grades and risks for the Top 50 prospects. For example, if a guy gets a “50 low,” he has a really good chance to be an average player at his position. If a guy gets a “55/High,” there’s a good chance he won’t reach that ceiling, but the potential is there. The grades are 20-80 (50 is average), and the risks are as follows:

  • Low: Players who are usually older, have debuted, are relievers and/or have higher floors than ceilings
  • Medium: Players who are a mix of younger and older, usually have higher floors
  • High: Players who are usually younger with potential, but also question marks
  • Extreme: Players who are generally younger with star potential, but a ton of question marks

This is to show what value a player might provide at the MLB level. The higher the risk, the less likely a player will reach that ceiling.

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Editor’s Note: I am not a scout (#notascout). I am an amateur when it comes to evaluating players. I don’t claim to be a pro, I just want to pass along the information I observe/obtain to the people. Notes and comments are based on personal observation, talking to sources, reading scouting reports and watching video. For future entries in this series: All ratings in the charts below are on the standard 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 is roughly average, 80 is elite and nearly unattainable and 20 is unacceptably poor. Enjoy.

Other Notes: “Role” is a realistic future role (slightly optimistic in some cases). Age is the 2020 season age for the player (June 30 is the cutoff date). “Comps” are usually the best-case scenario based off stature and production. They in no way guarantee the player will mirror the career of the comp.

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Rating Key

80 — Elite
75 — Borderline Elite
70 — Plus-plus
60-65 — Plus
55 — Above-average
50 — Average
45 — Fringe-average
40 — Below-average
30-35 — Poor
20-25 — Very Poor

2. Michael Busch

DOB: 11/9/97Age: 23Height: 6’1Weight: 215Bats: LeftThrows: RightPosition: 2B

Acquired: First round supplemental, No. 31 overall of 2019 MLB Draft, University of North Carolina, $2,312,000 signing bonus

Strengths: Plus-hit tool, plus-power potential, good strike zone judgement

Weaknesses: Questions about 2B long-term, lacking experience

Key statistics: .125/.371/.125, 20.0 BB%, 14.3 K%, .000 ISO (A/AZL)

Role: All-Star second baseman or everyday utility player

Player comparison: Carlos Santana (just to be different)

Summary: The Dodgers’ “reward” for not signing 2018 1st-round pick JT Ginn (instead of drafting Shane McClanahan) was Busch, who impressed in his junior season at North Carolina to catch the the team’s eye. While he hasn’t gotten on the field much — mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic — he has a bright future, and a brighter one than the guy (Kody Hoese) the Dodgers took six picks ahead of him.

Busch has 60-grade potential at the plate in both his hit- and power tools. He has a keen eye that leads to him working deep into counts and a line drive swing produces a lot of contact. There’s a slight uppercut in the swing, which helps him gain some natural loft, which is where the plus-power potential comes in. He in corporates a significant leg kick and has very quick hands — not as quick as Cody Bellinger coming up through the system, but he’s able to generate a ton of bat speed. He has a compact swing, so he’s not likely to get beat on good velocity and he has a good enough eye to consistently lay off the breaking pitches out of the zone. He showed well in Spring Training 2021, despite going just 2-for-12. Both his hits were for extra bases (a double and a homer). He may not have as much power as a player he’s frequently comped to — Max Muncy — but he should be a better hitter for average and could have a similar on-base percentage.

Defense is the biggest question mark for Busch. He played mostly first base and left field at North Carolina, but the Dodgers announced him as a second baseman, and they intend to keep him there as long as he can handle it. The reviews are mixed as to whether that happens. He’s smart enough for the position and has decent agility, but the nuances of playing the position are where he needs improvement. His average arm would be fine at second base, but it remains to be seen if he can play it at the highest level. If he has to move to either first base or left field, that would put more pressure on his bat. He doesn’t have the prototypical power profile of a first baseman, but if he hits, who really cares. He’s an average runner who won’t be a detriment on the base paths.

Busch has been impressive since turning pro. He has a big-league bat and has improved defensively at the keystone. If he can handle it, he has a chance to be a perennial All-Star at the position. Being 23, he should probably go straight to Double-A Tulsa with a chance to see Oklahoma City later in the season.

Video

ToolPresentFuture
Hit4560
Power4060
Speed5045
Defense3550
Arm5045
FV/Risk60High

2020 Ranking: 10
2021 Location: Double-A Tulsa/Triple-A Oklahoma City
ETA: 2022

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Next Up: Prospect No. 1

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.