Busch cranks 1st homer as he closes '19 in AFL

October 20th, 2019

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Michael Busch was, like most new draftees, wrapping up his first summer of pro ball by getting some work in at instructs. Then the Dodgers, who took the University of North Carolina product at the end of the first round of the 2019 Draft, told him they’d like for him to finish things off over the last couple of weeks of the Arizona Fall League.

With a very short commute, from the Dodgers’ Minor League facility here at Camelback Ranch over to the big league side where the Glendale Desert Dogs suit up, Busch was more than happy to oblige.

“I didn’t get too many at-bats this summer,” said Busch, who played in just 10 games after signing because of a hand injury sustained on a hit by pitch. “It was a good opportunity to come play with some good talent, a bunch of prospects here. It’s a good time and I definitely can learn a lot. The pitching here is top of the line, so getting to see that will help get me going for next year.”

Sunday was just Busch’s fourth game of Fall League action, and while he’d shown the advanced approach at the plate that helped make him such an intriguing offensive prospect in the Draft, he hadn’t driven the ball over his first seven at-bats. That changed with his second plate appearance against Scottsdale, as the Dodgers' No. 8 prospect took a 1-1 pitch from Blue Jays right-hander Graham Spraker the other way over the left-center-field fence for a solo shot that tied the game at one.

“I was just looking for a pitch to hit and got a fastball,” Busch said. “I tried to not do too much with it. Sometimes it goes over the fence and sometimes it gets caught. This just happened to be one of the times it didn’t get caught.”

Busch also drew two more walks and now has eight free passes in his four games against just two strikeouts. With Sunday’s long ball, his OPS -- in a very small sample size -- has now climbed to 1.314 as he continues to try to get reps after missing most of his debut summer. But if you’re looking for Busch to show frustration about getting knocked out of action, you came to the wrong place.

“It’s baseball,” Busch said. “Things go good, they go bad. I’m just trying to make the most of every day. Trying to get better each and every day is all I’m trying to do.”

He’s trying to do that defensively as well. Primarily a first baseman and left fielder with the Tar Heels, some eyebrows were raised when Busch was announced as a second baseman on Draft night. He was playing second exclusively during his brief pro debut before the injury and had played there during his 2018 Cape Cod League stint, but that’s largely been it. Sunday was his first AFL start there, and he almost made a very nifty glove-flip play on a ground ball hit by Mets shortstop Andrés Giménez. He figures positional flexibility can never hurt.

“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.”