On late Tuesday afternoon news broke that the Dodgers were calling up top prospect Cody Bellinger. Now Bellinger has an unquestioned pedigree; heading into 2017 he was the #7 rated prospect by Baseball America and #13 on MLB.com, so the move is certainly not without merit. Still, aside from Kris Bryant two years ago you generally don’t see these types of decisions three weeks into the season.
Los Angeles however likely felt pressure to make the call for two reasons. First, the team is clearly in win-now mode and has deep enough pockets to ignore the financial implications of service time. Second, the lineup has been decimated by injuries in recent weeks, the effects of which were on display Monday night when Matt Cain of all people held them scoreless over six innings. It’s clear something had to be done.
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As for Bellinger himself, he’s currently slashing .343/.429/.627 across 18 games at AAA Oklahoma City with 5 homers and 7 steals in 67 at bats. The power is certainly real as the kid hit 30 homers as a 19 year-old in A+ and followed that up with 26 dingers across AA/AAA last season, but the speed is a welcome surprise. His previous high for steals was 10 back in 2015, granted Bellinger is a good athlete and certainly has the potential to run more at the major league level. He’s been primarily a 1B in the minors, though he has six starts in the outfield this year and it appears that’s primarily where the Dodgers will use him at least in the short-term (he started in LF and batted 8th Tuesday night).
In terms of fantasy value, Bellinger is a must add in anything 12 teams or deeper and has the upside to factor in shallower formats as well. There’s obviously no guarantee that he will stay up beyond just a few weeks, but the Dodgers’ willingness to bring him up likely means they’re also not afraid to keep him in the lineup if he hits. Further, if he struggles the team will likely send him down once Joc Pederson comes off the DL rather than keep him around in a bench role. My full season projection for Bellinger would be something like .265 with 24 homers and 6-8 steals so take that and prorate it over however long he stays up.