Multiple sources report this afternoon that the Los Angeles Dodgers will promote first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger to the major league roster in time for tonight’s game against the San Francisco Giants. Here’s a quick take on what to expect.
The Dodgers drafted Bellinger in the fourth round in 2013 from high school in Chandler, Arizona. He comes from a baseball family: his father Clay Bellinger played 183 games in the major leagues with the New York Yankees and Anaheim Angels, hitting just .193 in 344 plate appearances. His son is a much different player, being a power hitter as opposed to a light-bat utilityman like his dad.
Cody ranked as the Number One prospect in the Los Angeles farm system on the 2017 Dodgers Top 20 Prospects list, with the following comment:
1) Cody Bellinger, 1B-OF, Grade A-: Age 21, fourth round pick in 2013; hit .271/.365/.507 with 26 homers, 60 walks, 94 strikeouts in 410 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A; 60-grade power from left side, along with a high walk rate; has occasional contact troubles and batting average may not hold up in the majors; however if he can hit .250 the OBP and power will carry him; excellent defensive first baseman and can also play corner outfield if needed without hurting you. ETA late 2017.
Bellinger was off to a fine start with Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2017, hitting .343/.429/.627 with five homers, nine walks, and 22 strikeout in 67 at-bats. He’s even stolen seven bases this year without being caught.
Listed at 6-4, 210, Bellinger was born July 13th, 1995; at age 21 he is quite young obviously. Early in his career he was something of a slap/gap hitter, albeit a good one, but as he’s matured physically and refined his swing mechanics his power has blossomed. His power is generally but not exclusively to right field. There’s no shortage of bat speed and he’s developed a discerning batting eye, though there’s occasionally some swing-and-miss in his game as he’s worked to find the right balance between slugging and pure hitting.
Bellinger is a much better athlete than most first baseman, giving him above-average to excellent defensive ability at first base. His arm is strong enough for him to handle the outfield and he’s held his own in limited appearances in center, though long-term his range works best in left or right. At first base he’s terrific; in the outfield he is certainly playable.
Sabermetric projection systems view him as a .240ish hitter at present, albeit with significant isolated power. PECOTA projects .239/.315/.465, while Steamer sees .235/.307/.410. Scouts are more optimistic, but even if the objective projections are correct in the short run we are still looking at a guy who can holds his own in the majors at age 21. That’s special.
Given a normal development curve, Bellinger can be an All-Star eventually.