As compensation for failing to sign J.T. Ginn last year, the Los Angeles Dodgers received an additional first-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. They used it to select Michael Busch, an infielder who put up big numbers during his three seasons with the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.
Busch signed for the full slot value ($2.31 million) and began his professional career with the Arizona League Dodgers at the midway point of July. He appeared in only five games for the affiliate before earning a promotion to Low-A Great Lakes roughly one week later.
Unfortunately for Busch, his time in the Midwest League was limited to just five games after being hit by a pitch in the hand. In four of those contests, he interestingly lined up at second base as opposed to his traditional first base spot in college.
While Busch has transitioned back and forth from the positions with the Dodgers, he doesn’t mind the idea and believes defensive flexibility can benefit a team in more ways than one, via Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com:
“If you can play another position, it can help a team in many ways,” Busch said. “It’s fun. I haven’t been focusing on it too much. I’ve been playing first base for the majority of it, but it’s fun to play a bunch of positions and just kind of change things up. I played there last summer for about half the year, so I’ve had some experience out there.”
The Dodgers emphasize depth and versatility perhaps more than any other organization in baseball, so it’s hardly a surprise that they are experimenting with playing Busch at another position. Chris Taylor, Kiké Hernandez and Max Muncy are just a few players that have benefitted from this concept, leading to more playing time as a result.
While Busch’s first stint with Great Lakes ended prematurely, he participated in Instructional League during the offseason and was later assigned to the Glendale Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League.
Busch has relished the opportunity to face top prospects in the AFL considering his lack of at-bats in the summer. In five games for the Desert Dogs, the 21-year-old is hitting a solid .231/.545/.462 with three hits, one home run and nine walks compared to just nine strikeouts across 22 plate appearances.
Busch has appeared at second base in just one of the contests while primarily playing first base during the others.