Cody Bellinger – The Dodgers newest untouchable prospect

When MLB.com’s Jim Callis released his list of top first base prospects late last week, many Dodger fans were both surprised and elated that a Dodger prospect had cracked the top-10. But for those who closely follow the Dodgers minor league teams, the elation was there but not necessarily the surprise.

Coming in at sixth on Callis’ list was Dodgers 2013 fourth-round draft pick Cody Bellinger. And while those who have been closely following the 20-year-old Chandler, Arizona native and son of former major leaguer Clay Bellinger are indeed elated, many are asking themselves why he didn’t come in even higher on Callis’ list. Yes, Cody Bellinger is that good.

(Image courtesy of MLB.com)

(Image courtesy of MLB.com)

It’s hard to argue that Houston Astros first base prospect A.J. Reed doesn’t belong in the number one spot or Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Josh Bell number two, but it’s easy to argue that Bellinger has the minor league numbers to be ranked third. I must admit, however, that my opinion is definitely biased. Although I did get a brief look at A.J. Reed with the Lancaster JetHawks opposite Bellinger and the Quakes, I did not have an opportunity to personally watch any of the others on Callis’ list.

But who I did get to see – and quite often – was Bellinger, who not only finished the 2015 season as the Cal League’s RBI leader and was second in home runs with 30, but who was also named to both 2015 Cal League All-Star teams and was voted MVP of the Cal League Championship Series in the Quakes’ three-game sweep over the San Jose Giants. Yes, Cody Bellinger is that good.

Bellinger received a congratulatory pie in the face for one of several walk-off hits in 2015. (Photo credit - Ron Cervenka)

Bellinger received a congratulatory pie in the face after one of his several walk-off hits last season.
(Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

While these accomplishments alone might be good enough to put Bellinger into the so-called “untouchable prospects” category even at only 20 years of age and with only three years in professional baseball, it’s the timing that absolutely should put him there. As every Dodger fan knows, current Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez will be in the final year of his seven-year / $154 million contract in 2018 when Bellinger will be 23 years old (on July 13). By then Bellinger will be into his sixth professional season and definitely MLB-ready – if not sooner.

And here’s the kicker. Although Bellinger is already 6′-4″, which makes him a perfect fit at first base, he currently weighs in at only 180 pounds. This means that when he finally fills out that 6′-4″ frame, he is going to be an absolute beast and his power unfathomable. Keep in mind that AGon is 6′-2″ and checks in at 220 pounds. Like I said, unfathomable.

When Bellinger grows into his 6'-4" frame, lookout!. (Photo credit - Ron Cervenka)

When Bellinger grows into his 6′-4″ frame, lookout!.
(Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

Fortunately for Dodger fans, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi have already proven that they are focused on getting younger and beefing up the Dodgers’ farm system – especially its pitching. This is why it is imperative to protect guys like Bellinger and other top position-player prospects.

And in case you haven’t heard, Bellinger has been invited to the Dodgers big league spring training camp, which begins in a little over three weeks.

Yes, Cody Bellinger is that good.

 

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18 Responses to “Cody Bellinger – The Dodgers newest untouchable prospect”

  1. Peterj says:

    Ditto on Cody… The thing that got me was his soft hands on 1B… Looking back on LAD, we have always been blessed with great defensive 1B…
    What a ST!!! The young pitchers and a few that I’m anxious to watch are Trayce Thompson, (R.O.Y.) Cory Seager, Micah Johnson and Kike @2B..

  2. Badger3 says:

    Untradable? I don’t use that word. Piazza was traded. Pedro was traded. Heck, Babe Ruth was traded.

    That said, this is a player that nerd management guys like FAZ love.

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=259

    My observations – this guy runs fast and throws hard. You sure you want him at first base? He also strikes out a lot and didn’t have a high OBP at A+, but I think he will improve on that. I also read he is already proficient at going the other way. I see him as part of the 2018 plan, but I’m not sure I keep him at first base. Maybe. If he and Seager both fill in their frames with fast twitch fiber I can see them as our corner infield combo for 10 years.

  3. Bobby says:

    One good thing if the DH did come to the NL is we could keep Agone as the DH while the kids take over. Win win

  4. bobbie17 says:

    I know you have to start somewhere, but having singe A stats is not too important. Of course, good ones are better than bad ones. The strikeouts bother me. He must have holes in his swing that even the single A guys can get to. Let’s see how he does in camp. On the Rancho team, the best player was Kyle Farmer, another invitee.

  5. Snider Fan says:

    Scouts always liked this guy but questioned his power. Well, last year he flashed power but paid a price in strikeouts. I think if he can find a happy medium, he’ll be fine. He’s only 20–he skipped low A–that’s five years younger than Farmer.

    • Ron Cervenka says:

      Not an excuse but when I interviewed him midway through the season he was dealing with a lingering hand injury (HBP).

      Also, if you’ve seen him in person, you undoubtedly noticed that he has a very long swing. This is by design and something that he worked on at Low-A to increase his power. Needless to say, it worked.

      Please don’t lose sight of the fact that he’s only 20 and is already headed to big league camp. This kid is special.

  6. Badger3 says:

    I agree that excitement about A numbers is premature acclamation. When he does it, and does it without 150 strike outs, at AA, then I will be paying closer attention. The .873 OPS, 9th in the California League, does look impressive, but his .264 average is way down the list there. Would like to see more contact with two strikes as he was 5th in the league in strikeouts.

    • MJ says:

      Is this the one and only Badger? I read what you posted, and something in that report didn’t make sense. They said that he was a slow heart beat player, then in the same breath said that he takes his bad at bats, on to the field with him. It is good he already hits to all fields, and if he can cut down on his Ks, he will probably hit at a better average. I just hope his big swing translates to the bigs. He is still very early in his career, so he has a long way to go, at this point. At what level is he suppose to play this year?

      • Ron Cervenka says:

        My guess is that he’ll start the season at High-A Rancho but get promoted to Double-A Tulsa at or before before the break. A lot depends on how he does in big league camp and then when he gets sent back to minor league camp.

        The kid’s got a great baseball presence. He will do well.

        • MJ says:

          Thanks Ron maybe I will go see him live if he is at Rancho!

          • Ron Cervenka says:

            Make sure you get out there early in the season. I don’t think he’ll be there very long – if he doesn’t start in Tulsa, that is. 😉

  7. SoCalBum says:

    Closer look at Bellinger’s 2015 stats. In June and July he had 222 plate appearances and K’d 76 times with 11 home runs with a BA right at the Mendoza line. Significant improvement over the 22 games in August and 7 in September when he had 10 home runs in 117 plate appearances with 22 K’s; BA around .330 and OPS well above 1.000. Late season performance encouraging for this young man who was 3.5 years younger than the weighted average of position players in the Cal League.

  8. Gionfriddo47 says:

    Good stuff on Bellinger–exciting to see our loaded system getting it’s just due in print. However, I’m going to temper my own expectations. 35 yrs ago in the Cal League I watched the Dodgers (Lodi) come thru & a young 1B (albeit 2 yrs older than Bellinger while in the C.L.) crush balls out of Recreation Park in Visalia that still have not landed. The following 2 yrs that young 1B hit 30+ HR in AA San Antonio & 40+ HR in Alb.
    That being said, I did watch Bellinger this yr & to me he’s twice the athlete that Greg Brock ever was–very smooth around the bag & surprisingly quick on the bases. Brocks ultimate downfall was a long loopy swing that made it easy for pitchers to pound him inside. Hopefully, Bellinger doesn’t go the same route.

  9. Bumsrap says:

    Glad to see Bellinger get visible. I love that he will give the Dodgers speed at first.

    Kike’ has a chance this year to claim second base for years to come but I can see a trade still to get that second baseman that will stick for years. Puig can do the same and claim RF for years to come.

    In 2018 the Dodger infield corners could well be Seager and Bellinger. I see Pederson in CF for many years.

  10. Peterj says:

    Thankfully Cody is 20 y.o., lacking a lil weight and Baseball Prospectus has a couple more reloads on him… Or there’s also it’s only his second year and 2015 saw him get twice as many games and AB’s… Just petered out…
    Just saying…

  11. AlwaysCompete says:

    Bellinger played a total of 98 games over the prior two years, both at Rookie level. First game played in 2013 was June (7 total), and in 2014 was June again (2 games). He skips Great Lakes and goes to High A as a 19 year old, and plays 48 games in April and May alone, just about the same as the first two years. Now he is entering the summer months at a higher level than he probably should have been, and I believe hit a wall. Kudos to the farm directors for not moving him down and letting him work through his issues at High A. As Socalbum stated above, his August and September months were very productive. I think it was those two months that earned him the invite to ML camp. He made adjustments to pitchers probably more advanced/experienced than he was. Hitting 30 HRs at any level is a major accomplishment, even with 170 K. He has a long swing that will generate the HR but leave himself vulnerable to Ks. With more experience, he should be able to cut down on his Ks, but keep his HR level up. Time will tell.

    Bellinger is a plus defender at 1B who can also patrol CF. He is going to experience a ML camp as a 20 year old, and be tutored around 1B by a multiple GG winner. I believe he is being fast-tracked, and will get a huge test at AA with advanced pitchers. I would project that he will be promoted in 2017 to AAA, and if he performs well, should get a September call up. He could be the starting 1B in 2018 with Gonzalez being the role player,and veteran support; similar to Chase Utley this year for Seager and Hernandez/Johnson.

    It should be fun to watch him progress.

  12. MJRod says:

    We might see the kid before 2018, I love Adrian at 1b, but with FAAZ anything is possible!

  13. Ron Cervenka says:

    Just went back and read the comments to this article. I lol’d.
    #NailedIt

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