Unless you’ve been following the Dodgers minor league system very closely throughout the years, you probably don’t know too much about center fielder Nick Buss prior to last September. In 2008, the Dodgers picked Buss in the eighth round of the draft coming out of USC. As of 2013, Buss spent six seasons with the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes. Buss was hitting .303 last season with 17 home runs and 100 RBI. With these numbers, he led the Pacific Coast League in most batting categories and would eventually be named to the Topps’ Triple-A All-Star team.
On September 14, Buss was called up along with fellow outfielder Alex Castellanos in order to give Carl Crawford and the previously injured Andre Either some rest going into the playoffs. Jose Dominguez was also moved from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL in order to make room for Buss to move up. In his debut against the Giants, Buss hit a grounder off of Tim Lincecum to produce his first Major League hit, but this would be one of very few times Buss would reach base as a Dodger.
Granted he had little opportunity to prove himself, his success in the minors wouldn’t exactly translate with the Dodgers. The 26-year-old only played in eight games as a Major Leaguer, going 2-19 in eight games and with one walk, reaching base all of three times during his short time in the big leagues.
As one looks into 2014, the future may not seem too bright for Buss. One of the main subjects surrounding the Dodgers has been their congested outfield situation. With Matt Kemp vocalizing his refusal to accept a role as a fourth outfielder, that leaves Yasiel Puig, Crawford, and Either remaining to fill two remaining outfield spots. Assuming Kemp stays healthy, one of these highly capable outfielders will be the primary backup on the bench.
Even in the off chance that two of these outfielders are injured, the Dodgers would most likely go to Scott Van Slyke as the fifth outfielder. If not Van Slyke, the organization can also look at top prospect Joc Pederson, who was recently named the 36th best minor league prospect by MLB.com. Although similar to Pederson, who has acknowledged the very possibility that he could be traded due to a roster that’s crowded with superstar outfielders, Buss is equally aware of the Dodgers unique situation and has expressed his appreciation to even have his chance in the big leagues.
Despite Buss’ success in Triple-A, the likelihood fans will see him in a Dodger uniform this season are very slim. On a typical team where there aren’t an abundance of talented outfielders, Buss would be much more likely to assume a back up role. The Dodgers’ atypical outfield circumstances may be the best problem an organization can have, but Buss seems destined to spend the season back at Triple A.
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