Not long after being named ACC Tournament MVP after the Heels took home the conference tournament championship, the good news kept coming in for UNC first baseman Michael Busch. Regarded as a likely first-rounder all year, those predictions came true on Monday night when he was taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers with their second pick of the first round, in the 31st slot:
The Dodgers announced him as a second baseman, where he did not play in college but did last summer in Cape Cod, according to his profile on MLB.com. For whatever it’s worth, Busch told Third Man In that he’s comfortable at any infield position before the start of UNC’s 2019 season, which he has showed off with a stellar showing so far this postseason at first base (after playing outfield in the regular season), making several diving backhanded stops, showing sure hands, and making great adjustments to off-line throws.
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.”
There are questions about his size and how it will translate to playing defense at the professional level, though he’s a better athlete than he looks at 6-foot, 203 pounds: He played football and hockey in high school in addition to baseball. Like I said, he’s already shown great twitch at first base this postseason even if he doesn’t have great speed, and infield should suit him just fine.
Busch and the Tar Heels are in the middle of a postseason tear and will host a Super Regional over the course of this week with the objective of making it back to Omaha for a second consecutive College World Series appearance. We hope Busch can realize this goal in his likely last few weeks of action for the Tar Heels and wish him success in his professional career. Congratulations!