Per Ken Gurnick, the Dodgers are going to promote their top prospect, 1B/OF Cody Bellinger, from Triple-A Oklahoma City:
Source: Cody Bellinger is being called up by Dodgers.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) April 25, 2017
He’ll be wearing No. 35:
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 25, 2017
Bellinger has gotten off to a very strong start with the OKC Dodgers, batting .343/.429/.627 with five home runs through 77 plate appearances. He played 30 games with the Dodgers this spring, and batted .207/.294/.345 with two home runs in 68 PAs.
We don’t yet know the corresponding move to get Bellinger on the 40-man roster (Update: Brett Eibner was optioned and Joe Gunkel was DFA’d). We do know why he’s coming up, though. While the long-term plan for Bellinger is to have him take over for Adrián González at first base, he’s being brought up now to fulfill a different need (although goodness knows A-Gon looks like he could use the rest):
Bellinger is coming up to play the outfield. He'll rotate between LF and CF with Joc Pederson on the DL.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) April 25, 2017
That doesn’t sound like it bodes all that well for Joc Pederson, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list yesterday with groin tightness.
While Pederson is out, Bellinger will likely be used to platoon with Enrique Hernández in centerfield, and to start in left field in place of Andrew Toles. Hernández is batting .290/.371/.677 through 35 PAs, but has only faced righties eight times. Toles has gotten off to a bit of a slow start, batting .220/.278/.400 in 54 PAs (although it’s worth noting his BABIP is a low .205).
Just five days ago, Dustin wrote about when to expect, and what to expect from, a Bellinger callup. He noted that, while Bellinger is likely going to be very good, it’s important to keep immediate expectations reasonable:
His swing is big. It’s pretty to look at, but it’s susceptible to missing pitches. He got exposed a little bit in Spring Training this year after hitting quite well in Arizona last year.
This is especially true vis-a-vis Bellinger vs. lefties:
Bellinger doesn’t fix the platoon issues in left field, either, as he’s a left-handed hitter. He had success against lefties last season in the minors, but the translation to the MLB level isn’t exactly 1:1 (just ask Joc Pederson).
2016 Vs. RHP (AA/AAA)
.266/.370/.484, 13.7 BB%, 18.9 K%
2016 Vs. LHP (AA/AAA)
.284/.348/.578, 8.9 BB%, 22.3 K%
He hit for more power against lefties in the minors last season, but he also walked less and struck out more against southpaws.
As for how Bellinger should be used:
If Bellinger is brought up to help out the Dodgers in left field, then he needs to be playing consistently. That means, against both lefties and righties and he needs to be starting every game against righties and some against lefties. It doesn’t make sense to start his clock early (if he’s up before September) just for him to play three or four times a week, so throw him into the fire and see how he handles it.
We’ll see what happens tonight, with a lefty, Ty Blach, on the mound for San Francisco.
It’s always exciting when a top prospect gets called up. Bellinger and the Giants’ Christian Arroyo both making their major league debuts in the same series is a lot of fun. A Dodgers/Giants series is one exciting stage on which to launch your big league career.
Let the Bellingera begin.