The Dodgers have quite the farm system and the Arizona Fall League has further demonstrated that narrative. The most notable names tearing it up in the AFL are both Dodgers’ first-round draft picks, outfielder Jeren Kendall (2017) and infielder Michael Busch (2019).
Kendall has had a bumpy road to be where he is at, as he initially seemed like a long-shot to deliver on his first round promise. He is extremely toolsy — possibly the most toolsy player of any prospect in the system — but his hit tool has left a lot to be desired. It appears that this might be the beginning of a full blown turnaround for Kendall and his stock.
From April through July, Jeren Kendall held a .186/.292/.407 slash line while hitting 12 home runs and stealing 19 bags through 70 games. From August through the end of the season, Kendall changed. His walk rate sat at around 12 percent and his strikeout sat around 38 percent in the first span of time. In the second span: .303 batting average, .389 on-base percentage, 1.016 OPS, 11.5 percent walk rate, and 29.2 percent strikeout rate. Vast improvements were made.
Here is what he said about his return to relevance:
“No one wants to struggle. It’s frustrating. I don’t care what kind of player you are or how good you are. It’s a tough thing to go through, but at the end of the day I’m learning and creating some sort of game plan that I can use to push me forward.”
Kendall should be a very exciting player to watch in 2020 and if it all breaks right, he could find himself in the big leagues at some point in 2021 at the age of 25.
Busch, one of the Dodgers’ two first-round draft picks in 2019, only played in 10 minor league games but showed a ton of on-base ability in that short stint. Busch definitely has the prospect equity to be the Dodgers’ second baseman of the future.
10/20 Top AFL Prospects
Andres Gimenez NYM 3-4, HR
Michael Busch LAD 1-2, HR, 2 BB
Conner Capel STL 2-4, 2 HR
Derek Hill DET 2-3, HR, BB
Ernie Clement CLE 3-5, 2B, 3B
Aaron Hernandez LAA 5/0/5/0/1
Sterling Sharp WAS 5/1/7/1/2
Penn Murfee SEA 4/1/7/3/0
— Jesse Roche (@jaroche6) October 21, 2019
Busch’s main calling card seems to be his ability to work the walk. He now has eight total free passes through four games in the Arizona Fall League and walked a ridiculous seven times in ten games with the Dodgers’ minor league system.
The club is expecting big things out of the 21-year-old second baseman with his power and excellent plate discipline. He is the typical advanced first-rounder that the Dodgers have drafted in recent years, similar to 2019 first-round counterpart Kody Hoese. Busch and Hoese seem to be a key part of the Dodgers’ future should they pan out.