Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Dodgers Second Pick of 2019 Draft - 31st Overall - Michael Busch

With the Dodgers second pick on Monday, 31st overall, they chose another college bat in University of North Carolina infielder Michael Busch. The Dodgers announced him as a second baseman, but he mostly played first base this season. Per a Dodger press release:
After making their first pick, the Dodgers added another impact bat in University of North Carolina’s Michael Busch with the 31st overall selection. Busch started all 126 games for the Tar Heels over the past two seasons, batting .304 with 29 home runs and 120 RBI over that stretch while earning All-ACC honors both years. This season, the junior from Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota launched 16 home runs while playing multiple positions in the infield and the outfield. The left-handed hitter, who was scouted by Dodgers’ scout Jonah Rosenthal, was also impressive during his stint using wood bats in the Cape Cod League during the summer of 2018, where he posted a .322 batting average and earned All-Cape Cod League honors with the Chatham Anglers. 
“Michael is a guy who we thought was one of the better bats in the Cape, both in terms of performance and swing, as well as overall defensive versatility,” Gasparino said. “He’s been a staple in the UNC program. They rave about his makeup and his character, and we’re excited to add him to our organization.”
Busch is a 21-year old Junior who is 6'0" tall, weights 207 lbs., bats left-handed and throws right. You can follow him on twitter here: @michael_busch22. BTW, he isn't the first Michael Busch to ever be drafted by the Dodgers. In 1990 they drafted a kid from Davenport, IA named Michael Busch in the fourth round who went on to play two season for the club. The new Michael Busch was ranked by MLB Pipeline as the 26th best prospect in the draft (the Dodgers first pick, Kody Hoese, was the 25th best). Below is their scouting report on Bucsh.
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 45 | Arm: 40 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50 
While Busch was Minnesota's top high school position prospect in 2016, his bat stood out more than his athleticism and he wasn't a highly regarded recruit or Draft target. That profile remains true today but now he's one of the best pure hitters in college baseball and a likely first-round pick. He has been one of the Atlantic Coast Conference's most dangerous bats the last two years and also has starred in the Cape Cod League. 
Busch makes it look easy at the plate. He has a smooth left-handed swing with plenty of bat speed and a patient, balanced approach that allows him to hammer balls to all fields. He should hit for average and power while drawing plenty of walks, and few college players in this Draft have a higher offensive ceiling or floor. 
Busch's Draft status is compromised somewhat by uncertainty about his future home. He's small for a first baseman and has below-average to fringy speed and arm strength. He's more athletic than his 6-foot, 207-pound frame might indicate -- he starred in football and hockey as well as baseball in high school -- and possibly could handle second base (where he played on the Cape) or left field (where he has seen action this spring).
In other words, his bat is so good teams will have to find a place to play him. Below are several articles about Michael that I thought worth checking out:
He also has a great glove, so when not playing first base, he could be found at a corner outfield spot while playing for the Tar Heels. He also played some second base while in the Cape Cod League and was announced as a second baseman on Monday night. Busch is also surprisingly agile for his size, and he has the ability to make quick stops and is able to redirect himself back into the play. 
The left-handed hitting Busch is slashing .290/.441/.567/1.008 with 16 homers and 31 extra-base hits for UNC this year. Over the last two seasons, he has hit 29 home runs and walked 113 times to 67 strikeouts.
“There’s hit and power with that package,” Gasparino said. “He can cover a lot of pitches in a lot of different zones. Left, right (handed pitching), he handles both sides. We think he’s an elite hitter.”
“I'm about as blessed as can be because I've seen every swing he's taken while he's been in Chapel Hill,” Fox (UNC coach) said last week. “… It's probably as corny as it can be, but I get to watch, and I've said it for a number of years how good these kids are, not just on our team but all around college baseball. The players are so good now and Michael is right up there with the best of them, and he's even a better person. I know you've heard that from a lot of coaches, but that's what makes it more special.”
“I really pride myself on having really go at-bats,” Busch said. “Not being that all or nothing hitter, but just being an all-around solid hitter. 
“I don’t focus on getting extra-base hits. Just every at-bat trying to get a hit one at a time and getting on base. I think that approach has helped me improve my game and take it to the next level.”
As evidenced by his on-base percentage, Busch demonstrates tremendous patience and knowledge of the strike zone. He struck out slightly more than he walked as a freshman, and has never done so since. In fact, in two additional seasons of college ball and two seasons of summer ball he has never had an OBP below .426. The plate discipline is real.
The primary reason he was drafted was for his bat, though. Busch is in the closing stretch of a fine season at the plate for UNC, hitting .294/.447/.575 with 16 home runs and 57 RBI. His batting average is down from his breakout sophomore season, when he went .317, but his on-base and slugging percentages stayed the same and increased, respectively. The lefty earned All-ACC First Team honors along with his Tournament MVP this season primarily on the strength of his bat, and he has already shown his hit tool translates to a wooden bat in the Cape Cod summer league: He was named to the All-Cape team after hitting .322 in the regular season for the Chatham Anglers last summer. As his MLB profile says, “he should hit for average and power while drawing plenty of walks, and few college players in this Draft have a higher offensive ceiling or floor.”
You should be noticing a trend here. Michael Busch is a solid hitter and that is likely to translate to the Major League level. In celebration of Michael's selection by the Dodgers I made the above two fantasy custom Baseball cards of him.

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