With home runs reaching an all-time high in the month of May, it is clear that power is trending. This means it is a great time to be a power-hitting college bat. In other words, there has seldom been a better time for a guy like University of North Carolina junior Michael Busch to be draft eligible.
Michael Busch 2019 MLB Draft Profile
Michael Busch is the epitome of a bat-first prospect. He has played primarily first base in college, though he also has some experience in left field, and even at second base in the Cape Cod league. While this could tell you that he’s versatile, in his case it simply means that his bat is too good to sit so teams are finding a spot for it.
Everything that involves holding a bat comes easily to Busch. His college slash line, according to D1Baseball.com, is .285/.433/.497 with 31 home runs, 31 doubles and 138 walks to 98 strikeouts for his career. Additionally, he slashed .322/.450/.567 in the Cape Cod league as a 20-year-old. Busch can hit.
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.
MLB.com believes Busch will be an above-average hitter with above-average power, grading both tools at 55 on the 20-80 scale. Though perhaps a bit undersized for the typical first base prospect at only 6’0″, Busch has seen his slugging percentage increase every season, up to .567 as a junior. In addition to hitting a career-high 16 home runs this season, on the heels of 13 as a sophomore, Busch’s career batting average is held down by the .215 mark he achieved as a freshman. Since then he has hit .317 as a sophomore and .290 as a junior.
Busch is undersized for his power profile, a la Khris Davis. At six feet tall and only 207 pounds, one of the biggest knocks on Busch is that he does not move nearly as well as he should. Fangraphs described him as “stiff but well-built”, while MLB.com gives him a fringe-average 45 as a runner. Neither description is particularly promising for a 21-year-old. Additionally, as a junior, he stole 4 bases but was caught 5 times, so there should be no expectation that speed will be a part of his game going forward.
While his actual fielding typically grades out at an above-average 50, his arm is a below-average 40. With a subpar arm and a lack of footspeed and agility, his overall defensive profile is a major question mark.
There are relatively few players to compare Michael Busch too. Most of today’s premier first basemen did not attend college. Paul Goldschmidt did, and while his numbers (and size) outstrip Busch’s, there are some similarities. Busch has a shorter swing than Matt Olson, though plate discipline aside, that might be a reasonable hope for Busch in the future. While his defensive profile is uncertain, Michael Busch should hear his name called fairly early in the draft, because his bat could be a difference maker.
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