Now that my appetite for HOF stories has been satisfied, it is now time to try and write more Dodger related posts. Because there is so much going on.
One of my favorite Dodger prospects has been Michael Busch. I was never too enamored with Kody Hoese, and got into multiple verbal scuffles with those who thought he was going to be the starting 3B for LAD no later than 2022. Both Hoese (#25) and Busch (#31) were 1st round picks in the 2019 draft, and the talent evaluators agreed with their first round status. While I was hoping for Gunnar Henderson with the 25th pick, I cannot fault the Dodgers for going with a RH seemingly power hitting 3B.
I admit I am a College Conference snob. The SEC, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), and PAC12 are the top baseball conferences in NCAA Division 1. The Big West with Cal St. Fullerton and Long Beach State are in the next tier with the Big 12 and Big 10.
Michael Busch played for North Carolina, one of the perennial top teams in the ACC. Kody Hoese played for Tulane in the American Athletic Conference, a conference that has produced no NCAA Division 1 World Series championships, and very few participants. Wichita State did win a D1 World Series, but not while in the American Athletic Conference. When hitters can put up big numbers with the pitchers that come out of the ACC or SEC or Pac 12, I put more stock in that production. They are facing much better pitching.
- Busch College stats – .282/.429/.492/.921 – 101K vs 143 BB, 32 HR, 142 RBI
- Busch Cape Cod (111 PA) – .322/.451/.567/1.017 – 17 K vs 19 BB, 6 HR, 17 RBI
- Hoese College stats – .316/.402/.541/.943 – 92 K vs 73 BB, 28 HR, 105 RBI
- Hoese New England Collegiate (173 PA) – .283/.370/.493/.863 – 37 K vs 17 BB, 7 HR, 25 RBI
- Busch Pro Stats – .267/.374/.493/.867 – 301 K vs 151 BB, 52 HR, 177 RBI
- Busch AFL (22 PA) – .231/.546/.462/1.007 – 9 BB vs 4 K, 1 HR, 1 RBI
- Hoese Pro Stats – .234/.291/.339/.629 – 164 K vs 55 BB, 13 HR, 85 RBI
- Hoese AFL (60 PA) – .200/.250/.327/.577 – 17 K vs 3 BB, 2 HR, 5 RBI
Note – Of the 28 college HR hit by Hoese, 23 were hit in his final season. Kody had a fantastic final season at Tulane which skyrocketed his draft status.
Busch has been highly regarded for several years professionally. He has been a Top 100 prospect in:
- Baseball America – pre-2021 (#87), pre-2022 (#76), pre-2023 (#54)
- MLB – pre-2022 (#67), pre-2023 has not been selected as of this post, but he is expected to be so ranked
- Baseball Prospectus – pre-2021 (#91), pre-2023 (#59)
Hoese has not appeared on any Top 100 lists.
Busch had more walks than strikeouts in college, and not by a small margin. He has a tremendous discerning eye at the plate, with quick hands that he could barrel up and hit to all fields. When I saw video of him on the day of the draft, I was impressed. He was a hitter.
It really was not difficult for me to predict who would become a better professional player. I am not smarter than those who participated in the draft. Nowhere close. As I said, I am a college conference snob. And I read some scouting reports that said that Hoese had a long swing with slow bat, and would have real problems catching up to high velo up in the zone. LAD development team obviously believed they could fix that flaw.
Busch will make his MLB debut at some point this year. The problem for Busch is that he has no position. He played 2B in an era that did not require quickness because of the shift. Is he a legit MLB 2B? His bat would seem to say that he is. But his glove?
Busch has just been named the 2nd best 2B prospect by MLB. He is an extremely hard worker, and has fashioned himself into an adequate 2B per MLB (and other scouting reports – See below).
Miguel Vargas appears to be the chosen prospect that will get the longest runway. I have no problem with that. I think he has the potential to be a .800+ OPS player. But can he play an adequate defensive 3B? I think we are going to find out.
Busch has been compared favorably to Max Muncy. Offensively, I think he can get there. Defensively? Muncy made his MLB debut with Oakland as a 24 year old, but did not play significant innings until he was 27 with the Dodgers. Busch is 25 this year. Both Busch and Muncy are patient at the plate…some say too patient.
Baseball America Scouting Report:
Busch’s exceptional plate discipline is the foundation of his success. He exudes calm in the batter’s box and rarely chases outside the strike zone, putting together high-quality at-bats and forcing pitchers to throw the ball over the plate. Busch unloads on balls with a short, balanced swing from the left side and drives them hard in the air from left-center to right-center field. He occasionally gets underneath fastballs at the top of the zone, but he has the strength, hand-eye coordination and feel for the barrel to do damage against all types of pitches. Busch can be too passive at times, leading to too many strikeouts looking, but he has improved his aggressiveness and projects to be an average hitter with plus power as he further refines his approach. A first baseman in college, Busch transitioned to second base as a pro and remains a work in progress defensively. He’s a fringe-average runner with limited mobility and isn’t particularly smooth, but he tends to make the plays even if it isn’t always pretty. He projects to be a fringy but playable second baseman with a below-average arm.
MLB Pipeline Scouting Report:
With his sweet left-handed stroke, patient approach with good balance, uncanny hand-eye coordination, bat speed and strength, Busch is equipped to hit for both average and power. He focused more on the latter in 2022, more aggressively attacking pitches early in counts and driving the ball with authority to all fields. He continued to draw walks and present an offensive profile similar to Max Muncy’s, though Busch is a better pure hitter.
Though Busch has fringy speed and arm strength, he has worked hard to improve his quickness and arm since turning pro. Evaluators inside and outside of the organization are impressed at how he has transformed himself into an adequate defender at second base. He’s still best suited for first base and began seeing action last season in left field, where he could be passable with more experience.
Baseball Prospectus Scouting Report:
He spent the 2022 season at the two highest levels of the Dodgers’ farm system, slashing a combined .274/.365/.516 with 70 extra-base hits—38 doubles and 32 homers. While he’s prone to striking out, whiffing 167 times at a 26% clip last season, he also sees nearly four pitches per at-bat and posted a 12% walk rate. While he crowds the plate (nine HBP in ‘22) and employs a slight pull bias in his approach, Busch is a well-rounded offensive contributor, capable of driving the ball to all fields and contributing from any spot in the lineup.
His versatility also extends to the defensive side, where the second baseman by trade manned left field and first base at times last season. While he’s not flashy with the leather, his athleticism and baseball IQ allow him to provide adequate defense at multiple positions. Busch may be most valuable as a super-utility player, capable of spelling teammates across the diamond while providing some offensive firepower.
I am comfortable with the scouting reports as they basically say the same thing. Now where does he fit in the LAD depth chart. He is going to get a chance at 2B in ST. Without knowing if there will be other roster changes, I would project that he will be optioned to OKC during ST. Vargas and then Outman will get the youth movement treatment.
I remain a Michael Busch fan, and believe he will be a MLB hitter. I only hope that he does so as a Dodger. I think Busch will be up and down during the season, but will replace Muncy on the roster next year as a 2B/LF/DH.
My fear is that Busch is the perfect trade option for a specific need at the ML level, and I do believe that the Dodgers will rue the day they trade him, as he could go on to become another Yordan Álvarez. Okay, maybe that is a stretch (and my bias is showing), but he will be a ML hitter. He is a grinder…the proverbial junk yard dog. He has the same personality on the baseball field as did Chase Utley. He will do anything to win. Busch is not someone that you throw in as an additional prospect. His underlying attributes are special.
Busch has a ceiling as an All Star at 2B, and a floor of a MLB utility/DH.
I am a Green Bay Packers fan, so my season has been over for a while. I am indifferent to the 49ers. But I am a HUGE Christian McCaffrey fan since his Stanford days. To me, he is a FOOTBALL PLAYER. That is how I feel about Michael Busch. He is a BASEBALL PLAYER.
I am looking forward to seeing Busch in the spring.
Not a junk yard dog . .
Why do you say that? Have you ever seen him play? I have watched him play 50+ games on MiLB TV over the last 2 years. I have talked to scouts who are friends and they tell me he will do whatever it takes to win. They are the ones that tell me he has the same personality as Chase Utley. Nowhere near the player offensively or defensively, but someone you want on your side. I will believe my eyes and scout friends who have some relative insight.
If not for signing Freeman Busch would slot in nicely at 1b. Some team has a young shortstop they would hate to trade away but they need a first baseman.
I take a lot of heat for saying this but I will continue to say it because I know it to be true and the facts back me up
Any player that has trained and practiced for years at other defensive positions can play first base. It is in last place, right above DH, on the defensive WAR valuation chart.
As long as we have Lux at second Busch isn’t needed. When we rotate Rojas around the infield, Lux plays short, Muncy plays wherever, Vargas is in the mix, Taylor is still around, we’ve even talked about Betts at second.
Busch sounds like second baseman to me. He will be there in AAA this year or he will be traded.
Then again there’s Joc Pederson.
Good stuff, Jeff.
I also fell in love with Busch’s bat when I saw draft day video of him and then reinforced that opinion when I saw a tv’d workout at the stadium during Covid. That guy can definitely hit.
I hope he sticks around long enough to have a great career here, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him heading to the Brewers as part of an Adames and or Burnes and or Woodruff trade in July or this coming winter.
I fear you are right. If the Dodgers need Adames at the deadline, that would mean that the Lux to SS move did not work as well as they hoped. But IMO, Busch will be a better hitter than Adames. Adames at SS and Lux at 2B. Much better defensive alignment. But I do not think Milwaukee is going to be out of it at the deadline.
OKC announcer, Alex Freedman, says that Busch and Vargas can play adequately at 2B and 3B respectively.
Busch – 16 errors at 2B with 444 total chances and 1,017.1 innings – .964 fielding percentage
Vargas – 15 errors at 3B with 185 total chances and 631.2 innings – .919 fielding percentage
Vargas played 631.2 innings at 3B, 191.1 innings in LF, 57 innings at 2B, and 19.2 innings at 1B.
Per Alex Freedman, Vargas’ errors were primarily due to throws. As his scouting report indicates, he can catch balls hit right at him. What Freedman did not conjecture is how many balls was Vargas not able to get to. He was not charged with an error, but could a better defender make the play? I would have liked to hear Eric Stephen ask that question. I know he is working hard, but now there is more speculation that Vargas could be the 2B and Muncy at 3B. This will all get sorted out once ST is in full gear. I just fear that Busch is not in the long term plans for the Dodgers.
Lux to shortstop? Rojas is the Opening Day shortstop. Lux is the occasional shortstop. Second string. Back up. 40 games. If he is the starting shortstop it won’t be til ‘24 and Busch could then move in to second base.
But I think you’re right. Busch is going to be used in a trade. I had him going to Miami for Lopez. Glasnow? He’s going to be available soon.
All the reports I have been reading say that Lux is going to be the primary SS, and should be there against all RHP. Rojas will be there as a defensive backup and will start against tough lefties. The most recent is from Juan Toribio, the Dodgers beat writer for MLB.com:
Don’t shoot the messenger. 😉
You’re safe. I haven’t shot anybody in years.
We gave up our only ML ready shortstop for a backup infielder?
I had Lux at second. So, with Rojas starting on the bench, what does our Opening Day infield look like?
On Amaya, here is what Toribio said:
Toribio did not just make that up. He heard it from inside. The Dodgers have two very good beat writers in Juan Toribio (MLB,com) and Fabian Ardaya (The Athletic).
Well I read he figured it out in September, slashing 366.432.577. I like Rojas ok. But did we really need him for our bench?
If we’re starting Vargas, Muncy and Lux at some combination of 3rd, short and 2nd, yes we really need Rojas for the bench. On days he doesn’t start he’ll be finishing most games at one of those three positions.
I would like for Lux to start a minimum of 145 games at short. I don’t want him to be platooned but he will need rest days and if an exceptionally hard on lefties lefty pitcher is when Lux gets a rest then okay but not against all lefties.
Will Muncy reach 25 HRs and 800 OPS?
Will Lux adequately replace Trea as the #2 hitter?
Will Outman match or exceed what Bellinger did last year?
Will Taylor suck as much as he did last year?
Will Vargas increase or decrease his trade value?
Will Gonsolin repeat what he did last year?
Will anybody replace what Anderson did last year?
Will Lux be at least average defensively at SS.
Will there be a trade before Spring Training starts?
All good questions, and ones that will be answered by season’s end. We do know how the Dodgers would answer those questions, with the exception of Vargas increasing/decreasing trade value. The Dodgers are tied to him. He is not going anywhere.
Yes to everything. Except the Anderson question.
Between May and Syndergaard, I think they get 175 IP. Remember, the Dodgers also have Pepiot with ML experience and probably more confidence, and Miller and Stone on the way. Grove and Jackson on the way back end. Gonsolin is changing his mechanics to make sure he does not re-injure himself. He says everything is working very well. We will see in a few weeks. I am not as concerned about the pitching as many are. I liked TA, but he is far from irreplaceable.
You really believe CT3 will “suck as much as he did last year”? I am going to have to disagree on that one. I think he will have a year similar to 2021. 107 OPS+, 2.6 bWAR (3.0 fWAR), and 113 wRC+.
Just a question not a statement re Taylor
I recognize that yours was a series of questions and I took the chicken way out and said we will find out at the end of the season. But my response was actually responding to Badger who said that he did expect CT3 to suck as he did last year.
I overlooked that one. My bad.
Taylor won’t suck as bad as he did last year.
I noticed that as well but it was too late to edit.
2B Muncy or Busch or Vargas
3B Vargas or Muncy
CF Outman or Thompson
LF Taylor or Thompson
There are as many OR’s as there are IF’s.
Yes – the old Max will be back
No – but very few MLB hitters could replace him
Yes – very low bar on offense and Outman can hold his own on defense, although he might not equal Belli out there.
No – CT3 will actually contribute this year
Increase – he’ll have a nice rookie year and show what will come in the years to follow
No – that was a ridiculous year and not likely to be repeated by anyone on the staff
No – but Anderson won’t repeat it with the Angels either
Yes – barely average but will hit enough that we’ll be OK with that
Yes – AF just deciding if he’s going to trade for Ohtani, Reynolds or Cedric Mullins. Trade will happen on Feb 6th.
Interesting article on Bryan Reynolds over at Fangraphs:
Before We Discover Where Bryan Reynolds Is Going, We Must Discover What He Is | FanGraphs Baseball
I mean if he gets time at 2B and DH (he’s a lefty, JDM a righty) shouldn’t that be a ton of At-bats?
I know i”m missing something, right?
Are you suggesting that JDM is only the DH against LHP? I am guessing that JDM will hit RHP this year better than Busch.
2021 vs RHP – .290/.354/.536/.889
2021 vs LHP – .279/.341/.485/.826
2022 vs RHP – .261/.323/.406/.729
2022 vs LHP – .319/.402/.597/.998
Career vs RHP – .282/.343/.500/.843
Career vs LHP – .306/.377/.579/.957
While JDM kills LHP, he is certainly well above average against RHP. JDM and Michael Busch are not going to platoon at DH.
If I was to forecast where Busch will play this year, as the team is currently constructed, he is going back to OKC to play everyday.
MLB Pipeline published their pre-2023 Top 100 prospect, and the Dodgers were well represented yet again. This time with 7.
Diego Cartaya – #14
Bobby Miller – #24
Miguel Vargas – #37
Michael Busch – #54
Gavin Stone – #56
Ryan Pepiot – #70
Andy Pages – #81