The Astros have never shied away from taking a chance on great hitters with no immediate defensive home. Last year they drafted Seth Beer #28 overall, lauded for his advanced plate approach and contact but knocked for his defensive ineptitude. One of the Astros’ top prospects, Yordan Alvarez, is also one who is crushing at the plate but still needs to solve a position. In this year’s draft, having the last pick of the first round could net a similar player. One that fits that bill is Michael Busch.
Busch is a 6’0”, 205 lbs 1B/OF from North Carolina. Still only 21 years old, Busch is one of the more advanced hitters in the draft, a lefty that grades above average at hitting for both contact and power.
As a freshman, Busch started in 38 games, slashing .215/.349/.341 with 3 HR, 22 RBI, 8 2B, 27 BB, and 32 K in 135 ABs. Though the stats don’t stand out from his freshman year, Busch still provided the UNC with some key hits in his freshman year that would set the table for his sophomore year.
Busch broke out his sophomore year, one that saw him hit .317/.465/.521 with 13 HR, 63 RBI, 10 2B, 55 BB, and 30 K in 240 ABs. He became one of the most dangerous hitters in the country and really put himself on the map going into his draft-eligible Junior season.
As a junior, Busch has continued his tear this season, batting .281/.444/.523 with 12 HR, 50 RBI, 12 2B, 54 BB and 35 K in 199 ABs, earning MVP honors in the ACC.
Busch’s hitting stance is a little broad but he has a fluid lefty swing with a subtle leg kick that helps get his timing. Busch has good bat speed and a true balance of power that allows him to crush baseballs to all fields.
He has great pitch recognition and a patient eye that puts his plate discipline as a huge strength. Busch will draw many walks and won’t strike out too often, giving him one of the highest floors in the draft.
Busch is undersized for a 1B at 6’0”, 205 lbs but has good athleticism for a 1B. His speed grades below average and his arm strength leaves a lot to be desired. Uncertainty in where his positional home will be in pro ball draws questions as he doesn’t stand out at a spot. Most think either 1B or 2B will be where he ends up, but as a junior he has seen a fair amount of time in LF, adding to some curiosity to where teams view him in their future plans. With fringe speed and a well below average arm, LF may not be his permanent home, but the Astros have not been against trying prospects in the OF in the past.
Projected Round: Late 1st Round
Despite the questions surrounding his defense, Busch has great potential because of his bat. With one of the highest floors and ceilings at the plate in the class, Busch shouldn’t have to wait into the 2nd Round to hear his name called by the Commissioner. One team towards the backend of the 1st Round will take a chance on him and allow him to develop in professional baseball where they can also experiment with different factors to determine what position he will play at the next level.
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