The Los Angeles Dodgers have called up top prospect Cody Bellinger from Triple-A Oklahoma City. The corresponding move(s) to make room on both the 25- and 40-man rosters have not yet been announced.
Bellinger, considered an elite defensive first baseman, will likely get most of his playing time with the Dodgers in the outfield, at least initially. Starting center fielder Joc Pederson went on the 10-day disabled list yesterday after straining his groin in Sunday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Bellinger has played all over the outfield during his time as a minor leaguer, and he has the athleticism to handle center field.
In addition to his defensive prowess and flexibility, Bellinger can hit. In 77 plate appearances with Oklahoma City this season, he is hitting .343/.429/.627 with five home runs and four doubles. He has also stolen seven bases in seven tries. His power came on somewhat suddenly — after hitting just three home runs in 212 plate appearances for the Rookie-level Ogden Raptors in 2014, Bellinger mashed 56 homers and 50 doubles in 1,021 plate appearances between High-A Rancho Cucamonga, Double-A Tulsa, and Oklahoma City in 2015 and 2016 combined. He also stole 18 of 22 bases in those two seasons.
The thought process going into the 2017 season was that Bellinger would play most of this season at Triple-A, but his hot start combined with the injury to Pederson expedited that timeline. Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez has started poorly this season, too, which might have contributed to the decision to go with Bellinger instead of an outfield-only option. Gonzalez’s .266 batting average and .347 on-base percentage don’t look bad on the surface, but his .328 slugging percentage is 164 points below his career mark coming into the season. Gonzalez missed time during spring training with an elbow injury, and there has been speculation that he is not completely healthy.
Eric Stephen of True Blue LA has speculated that the Dodgers will open a spot on the 40-man roster for Bellinger by moving right-handed pitcher Brock Stewart to the 60-day disabled list. As for the active roster, outfielder Brett Eibner has been back and forth between the Dodgers and OKC and seems like a good possibility to head back to Triple-A to make room.
The Dodgers play the second game of a four-game series agains the San Francisco Giants tonight. Starting lineups have not yet been announced, but with left-hander Ty Blach pitching for the Giants, it’s unclear whether Bellinger will get his first start tonight or wait until tomorrow against righty Johnny Cueto. Clayton Kershaw takes the mound for the Dodgers tonight.