The Dodgers called up top prospect Cody Bellinger from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday, completing a four-year journey that began when the Dodgers drafted him in the fourth round in 2013. He entered the year ranked No. 7 on the Top 100 Prospects.
Bellinger, 21, is a natural first baseman but will play the outfield with center fielder Joc Pederson on the disabled list, left fielder Andrew Toles scuffling to a .220/.278/.400 line, and depth options Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke also on the DL.
Bellinger is the son of former big league infielder Clay Bellinger and has learned from his dad what it takes to be a major leaguer. Bellinger is strongly built at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds and has an uphill swing plane that yields massive power. He matches his power with enough strike-zone judgment to limit his strikeouts and get on base at a strong clip. He does have some holes in his swing but is athletic for his size and has adjusted well to each new challenge, so he still projects to be a solid hitter.
One of the best power prospects in baseball, Bellinger was also one of the top defensive first basemen in the minors. He was considered a potential Gold Glove Award winner there with smooth actions, clean footwork, soft hands and a plus lefthanded arm. Knowing Adrian Gonzalez was entrenched at first base, the Dodgers had Bellinger play some left field and center field during spring training and occasionally at Triple-A. While inexperienced at those positions, Bellinger is a good enough athlete to perform adequately in the outfield, although first base projects to be his best position long-term.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Bellinger will face a learning curve like most players getting their first taste of the majors, but if he can maintain his plate discipline he has a chance to provide a high on-base percentage and a few tape-measure home runs. Defensively there might be some misadventures in the outfield due to inexperience, but it also wouldn’t surprise if Bellinger shows he can hold his own. If Bellinger can adjust quickly and tap into his big power, he might just seize the Dodgers left field job for good and remain in the majors even after everyone gets healthy.