With just about a month left before the start of Spring Training, the Dodgers have yet to make a splash in free agency or on the trade market. They have been linked to plenty of big fish this offseason, ranging from DJ LeMahieu to Marcell Ozuna. But as of Friday morning, LeMahieu is officially off the board after a 6-year agreement with the Yankees. There is still a possibility of a reunion with Justin Turner, but time is running out for them to make a push to round out their roster.
If, for whatever reason, the Dodgers are done making moves and they decide to roll with their current roster, they will still have two question marks in the infield at second and third base. Edwin Rios and Chris Taylor would appear to be the front runners for third while Gavin Lux is hoping for a bounceback season at second, but there is still a lack of certainty with this group.
Should the Dodgers decide to go with the committee approach, perhaps there may be an opportunity for a lesser-known prospect to get his first taste of the majors and show this team how he stacks up at the next level.
Michael Busch is currently the fourth-ranked prospect in the Dodgers farm system and has already made tremendous progress since being drafted in 2019. In his first year of professional baseball, he struggled a bit out of the gate. He had a .125 batting average over 10 games between rookie and A ball, but his raw tools were still on full display.
During his time at North Carolina, Busch was one of their top offensive threats and one of the best infielders in the country. He led the Tar Heels to a 46-19 record in his junior season with a .284 batting average and 16 home runs, and he showed an incredible eye as well with a 39/61 strikeout to walk ratio.
When the Dodgers used their 1st round pick to take him 31st overall, they were sold on his ability to make consistent contact while also knowing when to take a pitch. These are tools that can easily translate to the next level, and it’s helped him progress through the Dodgers’ farm system quickly.
How Michael Busch Has Progressed
With the 2020 minor league season being canceled, many prospects were left without a chance to continue to develop their game while the major league season continued. Busch, however, was one of the few prospects chosen to be a part of the Dodgers’ player pool that practiced at the USC facilities. From there, these prospects had the opportunity to face more advanced competition, and it seemed to benefit Busch more than most.
As the 2020 MLB season came to a close, Busch was among the prospects that LA sent to the Arizona Instructional League in October. It didn’t take long for the young infielder to leave his mark. According to Baseball America, Busch was universally seen as the top hitter there.
While his defense and presence at second base are still a work in progress, it’s his offensive tools that have the Dodgers excited for what the future has in store for the young prospect.
Finding a Path to the Majors
Most experts have Busch’s arrival projected for 2022 if everything goes according to plan. But with the possibility of yet another impacted minor league season, it may be difficult for him to get the same development and training that you would normally expect.
Another COVID season also means that teams may have to rely on their farm system depth to get through a full 162 games. Players like Zach McKinstry and DJ Peters are bound to get the call up at some point during the year, but Michael Busch could be an interesting choice should they find an opportunity for him.
If the Dodgers roster remains as is heading into the 2021 season, there may be some innings available for Busch to get a taste of what the competition is like at the next level. Expecting him to get serious playing time is more of a pipe dream, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t get a chance to show what he can do.
In all likelihood, Los Angeles will either bring back Justin Turner or find another reasonable replacement; there’s just no reason why they wouldn’t. But it’s still great to know that there’s another top prospect already waiting for his chance to shine for the reigning World Champs.