Dodgers Top Prospects Entering 2016 Season: Cody Bellinger Rounds Out Top 5
Cody Bellinger, Yaisel Sierra Make 2016 Debuts; Plus More On Dodgers Prospects
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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After beginning with No. 35, we have arrived at the creme of the crop of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ top prospects.

A pair of early-round prep bats are joined by a late-round steal who developed into something special, a power arm acquired in a trade, and the heir apparent to Fernando Valenzuela.

With one prospect already entrenched in the Dodgers’ Major-League lineup and others on knocking on the door, the top of this list should look significantly different next year.

5. Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF

In the fourth round of the 2013 draft, the Dodgers took a gangly 17-year-old out of Arizona. He debuted with the Arizona League Dodgers, where he batted .210 with six triples and one home run.

The following year, Bellinger continued his quest in rookie ball where he again collected half a dozen triples to go with just three homers. But things changed in a hurry for Bellinger who, as a teenager, established himself as a premier power threat in 2015 by hitting 30 home runs in 128 games as one of the youngest players in the California League.

Getting older sometimes isn’t the worst thing in the world. For Bellinger, it meant adding strength to his frame. He gained 20 pounds during the offseason, putting him over 200, and it shows. He’s noticeably bigger than he was last season, which gives credence to the notion that his power surge wasn’t a Cal League mirage.

Bellinger did strike out a lot last season, but toned down his swing this spring in effort to make more contact. He’s probably going to strike out 100-plus times per season, but it will come with plenty of walks and home runs.

Defensively, Bellinger is one of the best in the business. He’s already at least a plus defender at first base with excellent hands, quick reactions and great instincts. The Dodgers began playing him in the outfield last year, his natural position in high school, and he more than held his own in center field.

He also played left field in Spring Training and the more positions he can play, the better. Bellinger is not a burner but he’s also not a base-clogger and should be able to play a proficient left field.

Once again, Bellinger will be one of the youngest players in his league, as he’s penciled in as Double-A Tulsa’s everyday first baseman. This season will be a significant test for him and could further expedite his path to the Majors.

4. Frankie Montas, RHP

The final piece of the three-team trade between the Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox last December, Montas looked poised to compete for a spot on the big league pitching staff this spring.

However, after he began feeling discomfort in his chest, he had a rib removed and was shelved for the entire month of March. He was projected to miss two to four months at the time of the mid-February procedure.

Prior to the injury, Montas had one of the best one-two punches in the system. He featured a fastball that sat in the mid-90s and has touched 102 mph in the past. He can get some movement on it when he doesn’t overthrow it.

His slider gives him a second plus pitch, a sharp, mid-80s offering that produces plenty of swings and misses. Montas’ biggest obstacles could land him in a bullpen eventually. He has a changeup but he doesn’t throw it too much and it lags behind the other offerings.

He also has trouble throwing strikes, evidenced by his Minor League walk rate of nearly four per nine innings and 5.4 per nine in the Majors last season. He has a big, durable frame and maintains his stuff, so the issue with him sticking in the rotation is developing the change and command.

After being placed on the 60-day disabled list to start the season, Montas won’t be able to pitch in the Majors for the first two months. However, he’d be able to begin a rehab assignment before that.

When and whether he will, is up in the air right now. Hopefully Montas comes back healthy and ready to help the big club sometime in the first half of the season.

CONTINUE READING: Dodgers’ top three prospects