After a year off, baseball’s minor league teams return to the field for Opening Week. The Dodgers affiliate clubs: Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Single-A), Great Lake Loons (High-A), Tulsa Drillers (AA), Oklahoma City Dodgers (AAA), aren’t as deep with major league ready talent as in year’s past. However, the Dodgers still had three players ranked on MLB’s Top 100 Baseball Prospects.
#48 Keibert Ruiz – Catcher
The Dodgers number one prospect has been lauded for his ability to make contact as a switch hitter. One MLB Expert labeled Ruiz as a “must-watch” prospect.
Coincidentally, Ruiz was recalled ahead of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs. He pinch hit and promptly smacked a solo home run off of Kyle Hendricks to avoid the Dodgers getting shutout in Game 1.
Something about Keibert Ruiz and first ABs. pic.twitter.com/JmRJXKiYeI
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) May 4, 2021
In his first at-bats of both 2020 and 2021 with the Dodgers, Ruiz has hit a home run. More importantly, manager Dave Roberts believes in his receiving ability.
“I certainly trust him behind the plate. Our pitchers know him, have thrown to him time and time again, so we can kind of read and react.”
Considering the Dodgers’ suddenly weak offense, Ruiz could seize his opportunity as an impact pinch hitter in the interim.
#49 Josiah Gray – Starting Pitcher
The right-handed pitching prospect was acquired in 2018 from the Reds when the Dodgers jettisoned Kemp, Wood, Puig, and Kyle Farmer in exchange for pitcher Homer Bailey. Gray, a former college shortstop, has risen quickly through the Dodgers system.
In his 25 starts in the minors, Gray compiled a 2.28 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP, and a K/9 of 10.2. He finished the year with the Drillers (AA) and was awarded the 2019 Dodgers Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award.
Still very much a prospect, Roberts doesn’t see Gray coming to the big leagues anytime soon.
“You know, we’re just not there yet. We think very well of Josiah…we’re just not quite there yet.”
Gray and his powerful fastball (92-97 MPH) will be opening the season for the OKC Dodgers (AAA) this Thursday.
#92 Michael Busch – Second Base
Busch was LA’s first round draft pick in 2019 out of the University of North Carolina. The infield prospect flat-out hit in his three years at Chapel Hill (.282/.436/.547). The left-handed, smooth swinging Busch received high marks from Roberts this spring.
“I like him — I like the baseball player. I think that people talk about the bat but I like the overall baseball player. He’s got a good head, good makeup, comes from a great program [UNC], plays the game the right way, very high baseball acumen. So he checks every box.”
He’s logged just 10 games in the minors due to COVID Minor League shutdown, but even rival scouts agree on his advanced hitting ability. The 23 year-old will start his first full minor league season in Tulsa (AA).