MLB

Dodgers Prospects: The Ever Growing Tale of Tulsa's Cody Bellinger

The ever-growing tale of Tulsa's Cody Bellinger continues to blossom after he hit a walk-off Grand Slam for the Drillers on Saturday.

He's listed as the Dodgers fifth best prospect, but you wouldn't know it by looking at him. His 30 home runs hit in Single-A Rancho Cucamonga in 2015 were the reason behind the hype, but he let a lot of air out of the balloon when he started the 2016 season on the disabled list with a strained hip.

He came off the DL in May, but struggled at the plate, hitting .150 with no home runs through his first 50 at-bats with the Tulsa Drillers. Scouts within the Los Angeles Dodgers organization were beginning to wonder if Bellinger was ready for Double-A ball. Then, he broke out.

Bellinger hit a walk-off grand slam home run in extra innings on Saturday in the Driller's 6-2 victory over the Travelers (Angeles franchise). It was Bellinger's first home run of the season and he picked a timely time to do it. Bellinger finished the game 3-for-5, but his legend grew after the grand salami.

In order to better know Bellinger, you must understand his big league beginnings. The 20-year-old grew up in the clubhouse with his father Clay, who played in the show for the New York Yankees during the late 1990s.

14 years after his father's last Major League appearance for the Angels of Anaheim, the younger Bellinger looks to return to the big league clubhouse, but this time on his own merit.

"It was unreal," Bellinger told MiLB.com, "Back then I didn't realize how lucky I was. I look back on it now and Jorge [Posada] and [Derek] Jeter and [Mike] Mussina and [Andy] Pettitte, it was just crazy. Then they were just friends."

Bellinger was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fourth-round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Hamilton High School in Chandler, Arizona. Fast-forward three years and he is now the Dodgers fifth ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

Bellinger is currently in Double-A with the Tulsa Drillers. Last year, Bellinger broke out in a big way at the Class A Advanced California League for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, hitting .264 with 30 home runs and 103 RBIs.

Bellinger credited that season to an offseason adjustment where he worked to lower his hands during his swing, which created more backspin on balls hit to the gap as they traveled a bit farther than before.

At 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Bellinger certainly has the power and is more athletic than most first basemen and is a quality defender with soft hands, agility and good instincts. 

Bellinger showed his versatility last year in Rancho Cucamonga when he started 21 games in center field and demonstrated an ability to be a productive corner outfield option in the big leagues. In high school, he was able to throw upper-80s fastballs as a pitcher and his throwing talents translated well in the outfield.

Despite hitting 30 home runs last season, Bellinger still classifies himself as a line drive hitter rather than a power hitter.

"I know what kind of hitter I am," Bellinger said. "I'm still a line-drive hitter. If the power comes, then great. I still know I have a lot of weight to put on. So if the power isn't completely there this year, I'm going to be fine. I'm going to stick to my line-drive approach and see what happens."

Bellinger is still working on fully coming back to form after suffering a hip injury in spring training. His goal this season is to lower his strikeout totals in Tulsa while maintaining his power. Don't be surprised to see Bellinger's name in the Dodgers starting lineup at some point in the next few years.

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