First baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger was ranked the Los Angeles Dodgers top prospect by Baseball America. He supplants Corey Seager, who was the organization’s No. 1 prospect each of the past two years.
Bellinger played in 117 games last season, 114 of which were with Double-A Tulsa, and the remaining three with Triple-A Oklahoma City at the end of the year. He remained with OKC through the Pacific Coast League championship.
Bellinger batted .263/.359/.484 with 17 doubles, 23 home runs and 65 RBI for the Drillers. Beyond carrying the Drillers offense, Bellinger proved to be versatile in the field, playing first base (81 games), left field (13), center field (13) and right field (nine).
His 2016 campaign came to an end with a strong showing in 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.
Bellinger was ranked the Dodgers fifth overall prospect by Baseball America prior to last season.
After Bellinger and in order of ranking, the top-10 list of Dodgers prospects is rounded out by right-hander Yadier Alvarez, right-hander Jose De Leon, outfielder Alex Verdugo, second baseman Willie Calhoun, outfielder Andrew Toles, outfielder Yusniel Diaz, right-hander Brock Stewart, shortstop Gavin Lux and catcher Austin Barnes.
Alvarez was the Dodgers’ 10th-ranked prospect last year. His rise up the rankings is a byproduct of a stellar professional debut. The Cuban native pitched to a combined 2.12 ERA between the Arizona Rookie League and Low-A Great Lakes.
Alvarez, who turns 21 years old on March 7, amassed 81 strikeouts to just 21 walks in 59.1 innings. He was ranked the Dodgers’ 10th-best prospect by Baseball America at the midseason update in 2016.
The Dodgers reportedly are high on Alvarez, and refused to make him available in a potential Brian Dozier trade.
De Leon missed the start of last season due to an ankle injury that affected him during Spring Training. After De Leon made his 2016 debut he was then sidelined due to arm soreness. The 24-year-old then hit the ground running upon returning in June.
De Leon went 7-1 with a 2.61 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 86.1 innings pitched over 16 starts for Oklahoma City. That earned him a promotion to the Majors, with De Leon making his Major League debut against the San Diego Padres.
He was 2-0 with a 6.35 ERA, 15 strikeouts and seven walks in 17 innings in four starts with the Dodgers. De Leon has been the subject of offseason trade rumors, specifically in speculation involving Dozier.
Verdugo spent the entire season with the Drillers, marking the first time in his career he played above High-A. Over 126 games, Verdugo batted .273/.336/.407, setting career highs with 13 home runs, 63 RBI and 44 walks.
Like Bellinger, the 20-year-old Verdugo joined Oklahoma City for the PCL championship, and went 4-for-12 with three RBI while appearing in four games. Verdugo was then among the crop of prospects sent to the Arizona Fall League.
He struggled some due to fatigue, but nonetheless was named to the Fall Stars Game. However, Verdugo did not participate as he joined the Mexican National Team for an exhibition series in Japan.
Over 132 games with the Drillers, Calhoun hit .254/.318/.469 with 25 doubles, 27 home runs and 88 RBI. He also joined OKC for the PCL championship, though only logged one at-bat, and finished the year participating in the AFL. Calhoun was named MVP of the Fall Stars Game.
Despite beginning the season with High-A Rancho Cucamonga, Toles played his way up the organizational ladder, joining the Drillers and OKC prior to making an impact with the Dodgers. In 48 Major League games, Toles hit .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and 16 RBI.
Diaz is up two spots from last year’s rankings. He appeared in 85 games, with all but three coming with the Quakes. In those 82 contests, Diaz batted .272/.333/.418 with eight doubles, seven triples, eight home runs and 54 RBI. The Cuban outfielder turned 20 years old in October.
Stewart, like Toles, climbed the Minor League ladder last season, also going through four different levels before reaching the Majors. Stewart appeared in seven games (five starts) for Los Angeles, going 2-2 with a 5.79 ERA, 5.90 FIP and 1.61 WHIP. In 21 minor league starts he went 9-4 with a dominant 1.79 ERA.
Lux, who was the Dodgers’ first round-pick in the 2016 Draft, spent time with Rookie Level Arizona League Dodgers and Ogden. He hit a combined .296/.375/.399 with 21 RBI and 41 runs scored in 56 games.
Barnes was the primary catcher for Oklahoma City last season and a third catcher and infielder for the Dodgers. Though, his time in the Majors was limited to just 21 games, with the 27-year-old going 5-for-32 with one double and two RBI.
Barnes hit .295/.380/.443 with 22 doubles, five triples, six home runs and 39 RBI in 85 games with Oklahoma City. With the Dodgers having traded Carlos Ruiz to the Seattle Mariners, Barnes is projected to enter the 2017 season as the backup catcher to Yasmani Grandal.