MLB Pipeline unveiled their top 100 prospects for the 2017 season, with five Los Angeles Dodgers Minor League players appearing on the list, led by first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger at No. 13 overall.
Right-handed pitcher Yadier Alvarez checked in at No. 49, outfielder Alex Verdugo placed No. 61, second baseman Willie Calhoun was No. 82, and right-handed pitcher Walker Buehler appeared at No. 93.
Bellinger was previously rated the Dodgers’ top prospect by Baseball America, and No. 2 by Baseball Prospectus, behind Alvarez. In addition, Bellinger was named the top first baseman prospect by MLB Pipeline, and the No. 6 prospect in baseball by ESPN’s Keith Law.
He hit .263/.359/.484 with 17 doubles, 23 home runs and 65 RBI in 117 games with Double-A Tulsa. Bellinger played first base (81 games), left field (13), center field (13) and right field (nine) for the Drillers.
The 21-year-old was promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City last September, and went 6-for-11 with three home runs and five RBI in three regular-season games.
Bellinger then hit .250/.364/.361 with one double, one home run, six runs scored, five RBI and seven walks in nine games during Oklahoma City’s playoff run that concluded with a defeat in the Pacific Coast League championship.
He was among the organization’s prospects sent to the Arizona Fall League, where Bellinger hit .314/.424/.557 with eight doubles and three home runs in 20 games for the Glendale Desert Dogs.
Alvarez, ranked the No. 46 overall prospect by Law, went 1-1 in five starts for the Arizona League Dodgers, striking out 26 batters in 20 innings pitched, and yielding an impressive 1.80 ERA.
He then joined Low-A Great Lakes, where Alvarez concluded the 2016 season. He went 3-2 with a 2.29 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 39.1 innings in nine starts for the Loons. Alvarez recorded 10 strikeouts in each of his first two starts for Great Lakes, and averaged 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings with the affiliate.
Verdugo was ranked the Dodgers’ fourth-best prospect by Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, and No. 31 overall by Law.
Verdugo hit .273/.336/.407, setting career highs with 13 home runs, 63 RBI and 44 walks in 126 games with Double-A Tulsa in what was his first experience above High-A. He joined Oklahoma City for the Pacific Coast League championship, going 4-for-12 with three RBI while appearing in four games.
The 20-year-old also participated in the AFL, though struggled due to fatigue. Verdugo nonetheless was named to the Fall Stars Game, but did not participate due to joining the Mexican National Team for an exhibition series in Japan.
Calhoun hit .254/.318/.469 with 25 doubles, 27 home runs and 88 RBI with the Drillers. In 14 Arizona Fall League games, he batted .255/.300/.340 with one home run and six RBI, and was named MVP of the Fall Stars Game.
After undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2015, Buehler returned to the mound last July, though only made three regular-season starts. His professional debut came with the Loons, where the right-hander collected two strikeouts and issued one walk in what was otherwise two spotless innings.
Buehler then pitched out of relief with the AZL Dodgers one month later, throwing two scoreless innings with three strikeouts. He returned to the Loons and threw one shutout inning in his next start.
The 22-year-old pitched twice in the playoffs, including starting the deciding game of a best-of-three series that sent the Loons to the Midwest League Eastern Division Championship. Buehler didn’t factor into the decision, but contributed two scoreless frames.
Buehler’s 2016 season concluded with three shutout innings to help the Loons pull even in the Midwest League Championship Series after dropping Game 1.
Buehler was rated the Dodgers’ sixth-best prospect for the 2017 season by Baseball Prospectus. Along with Alvarez, he reportedly was off the table in a potential Brian Dozier trade.