Outfield Suits Cody Bellinger
LOS ANGELES—The last thing a top prospect wants to see when he looks up at the major league club is an established veteran entrenched at his position.
The Dodgers have that in first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Adding to Gonzalez’s security is the fact he has never been on the disabled list in his 14-year career.
But 21-year-old Cody Bellinger isn’t an ordinary prospect. The power-hitting first baseman can also play the outfield and that led to his callup on Tuesday.
"Yeah, obviously I think that’s the ticket to the big leagues,” said Bellinger, a 2013 fourth-round pick out of high school in Chandler, Ariz. "The more positions you can play the better—for now and the future. So I’m all for it. It only helps the player and helps the team if you can play multiple positions waiting for a spot to open.”
Bellinger spent a good deal of his time in big league camp working with Dodgers coach George Lombard "to learn more about the outfield.” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts gave Bellinger ample playing time during the Cactus League at first base and in the outfield.
"I think he is a plus-plus defender at first base and more than serviceable at all three outfield spots,” Roberts said. "Last spring he was on fire (offensively). He had a great spring. This year, not so much. But his demeanor hasn’t changed.”
That slow spring didn’t carry over to the season. Bellinger went 18-for-50 (.360) with four doubles and five home runs through 13 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City. More challenging that Triple-A pitchers might be the wait for his big league opportunity.
"I was talking to (Corey) Seager and Joc (Pederson) and they kind of gave me some advice,” Bellinger said. "Obviously it’s out of my control. I’m going to go out there every day and I’m going to hit and I’m going to play defense and I’m going to show them what I can do. Everything else should take care of itself.”
• The Dodgers released 2013 first-round righthander Chris Anderson. He recorded a 4.37 ERA and 1.51 WHIP in four seasons, mostly at Class A and lower.
• The Dodgers purchased righthander Joe Gunkel from the Orioles after Baltimore designated him for assignment. Gunkel was designated for assignment to make room for Bellinger
'They're The Model:' How The Dodgers' Player Development Machine Rolls On
The Dodgers' continued dominance both in the majors and on the farm hearkens back to the dynamic Braves and Yankees of the 1990s and early 2000s.
— Bill Plunkett covers the Dodgers for the Orange County Register