We interrupt your Los Angeles Dodgers playoff coverage for a notable update in the minor leagues. On Wednesday, No. 3 prospect Michael Busch was named the Pacific Coast League MVP and No. 5 prospect Gavin Stone was named a PCL All-Star.
Good news, right? Well, kind of. It's nice for these two players to receive deserved accolades, but by no means does this shift the course of their Dodgers futures or improve their trade value. All that matter is how they performed at the MLB level. That's what the Dodgers will evaluate. That's what opposing teams will evaluate when discussing trades.
And even with Stone's All-Star nod, he still took a big step backwards this year, posting a 4.74 ERA and 1.31 WHIP while striking out 120 batters in 100.2 innings. The season prior, across three levels, he finished with a 1.92 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 168 strikeouts in 121.2 innings. Obviously, he needs to settle somewhere in the middle here, but that large of a gap over a year isn't encouraging (not to mention his 9.00 ERA and 1.90 WHIP in eight MLB games).
But Busch is the more urgent topic. Stone still has time to develop and has some time to reflect on what went wrong in 2023. Busch, on the other had, has plateaued. He can't possibly perform any better at Triple-A.
Michael Busch's Triple-A MVP honor won't change his Dodgers future, trade value
The next step is the show, and the Dodgers didn't seem to have much confidence in him after a .167/.247/.292 line and 27 strikeouts in 81 plate appearances. He's heading into his age-26 season at a crossroads. Will he be able make the jump? Will he be given the chance? Might he just be a Triple-A star and nothing more?
As for his trade value, after his gap in performance between OKC and MLB, why would teams view the MVP news as anything helpful to them? Busch's abilities at the minor-league level are well-documented, and he's also afforded the luxury of playing in a hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Might this just tell shrewd executives that Busch is possibly a product of his environment?
Peek at the other All-Stars. Failed Angels top prospect Jo Adell, failed Angels former top prospect Michael Stefanic (despite a decent showing in 25 MLB games this year), and failed Angels top prospect Trey Cabbage. Do All-Star nods and minor-league recognitions predict future performance?
Sadly, the answer is no, unless it's a rising prospect outperforming his more experienced peers and creating a true future roadmap. All of these guys largely have their futures spelled out for them, and Busch having the most promise doesn't change the fact he still needs to define his path with a promising spring training and early 2024 performance ... if he makes the Opening Day roster.