San Francisco

Cody Bellinger Ready for the Bright Lights of Dodger Stadium

The Los Angeles Dodgers top prospect, Cody Bellinger, made his MLB debut on Tuesday, but will start under the bright lights of Dodger Stadium for the first time on Friday.

It's time to separate the men from the boys.

Cody Bellinger, the Los Angeles Dodgers' top prospect, made his MLB debut on Tuesday in San Francisco, but on Friday he will start under the bright lights of Dodger Stadium for the first time.

Bellinger started the season with the team's Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City as once again the Dodgers opened the year with an overcrowded outfield.

The young left-hander can play both corner outfield positions and first base in the major leagues, and is seen by many executives in the Dodgers' front office as the heir apparent to Adrian Gonzalez.

However, after a wrath of injuries struck the Dodgers to start the season—an MLB-leading 12 players on the disabled list—the front office felt that the time was now to call up their top prospect.

No coincidence, the move came less than 24 hours after the rival Giants called up their top prospect, Christian Arroyo, who started at third base against the Dodgers on Monday.

Bellinger was promoted to the Big Leagues on Tuesday, and the 10th ranked prospect in all of baseball wasted no time getting his feet wet as he started in left field with Clayton Kershaw on the mound.

Reportedly, Bellinger was asleep early Monday morning when Dodgers' Director of Player Development, Gabe Kapler, started calling his cellphone around 2:00AM CST. 

The phone rang four different times before roommate and OKC pitcher, Trevor Oaks, woke up Bellinger and told him to take the call.

At just 21 years of age, Bellinger became the youngest Dodger to start in left field, surpassing Frank Howard, who was 22-years-old when he made his MLB debut for the Dodgers in 1958.

Bellinger went 1-for-3 with a walk in his debut, beating out an infield single to short for his first career hit.

"That's not how I imagined it would be, but I'll take it." Bellinger told reporters of the first hit of his career. "Every kid growing up wants a home run as their first hit."

Bellinger's dream of reaching the big leagues was forged in childhood. Born into a baseball family, Bellinger's father, Clay, played 15 years in baseball, including for the New York Yankees between 1999-2001.

Bellinger grew up alongside Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, and watched his father play in three consecutive World Series.

"It was awesome," Belinger said of growing up around baseball. "Ever since I was little, I was around baseball, in a baseball clubhouse around big leaguers. I took it for granted as a kid. I look back at it now, I was pretty fortunate to hang out with Jeter, Posada and Pettitte, go over to their houses and hang out. I didn't know how lucky I was back then."

Clay coached his son in little league and led Cody's team to the 2007 Little League World Series.

"It was unbelievable," Bellinger said of the LLWS. "I was 11 and on ESPN in front of 30,000 people. It's kind of weird just looking behind me and having all those people watch 11-12 year-olds play, but it was cool getting that experience on Baseball Tonight."

Bellinger was selected out of Hamilton High School in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Dodgers and only had to wait four years to make his MLB debut. Outside of his first at-bat, Bellinger said he felt comfortable at the big league level.

"I was comfortable," he said after his first game. "I felt like I belonged."

Bellinger is expected to stay with the Dodgers until outfielders Joc Pederson and Franklin Gutierrez are ready to return from the disabled list next week. 

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