General | Professional | 11/14/2017

Bellinger unanimous NL ROY

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

When the Los Angeles Dodgers promoted Cody Bellinger to the big leagues 20 games into the 2017 regular season, there was no one more surprised than Bellinger himself. He had said during spring training that he expected to be a September call-up if he performed well enough at Triple-A Oklahoma City throughout the summer.

But there he was, hitting eighth in the Dodgers’ batting order and playing left field at the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park the night of April 25, a 2-1, Clayton Kershaw-pitched victory for the Dodgers. Bellinger singled and was intentionally walked in that memorable debut, and he was just getting started.

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound left-handed hitting slugger went on to set several franchise single-season home run records while helping the Dodgers win the National League pennant, and finished with an NL rookie record of 39 bombs. There was one stretch during which he hit 10 home runs in 10 games.

And on Monday night, the Baseball Writers Association of American (BBWAA) recognized his achievements and named Bellinger the 2017 Jackie Robinson National League Rookie of the Year in a unanimous vote. His selection came just a year after Dodgers’ shortstop Corey Seager won the award.

A fourth-round pick of the Dodgers in the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft out Hamilton High School in Chandler, Ariz., Bellinger participated in six Perfect Game events in 2011-12. He was included on the Top Prospect List at the 2012 PG National Showcase in Minneapolis and was named to the all-tournament team at the 2012 17u PG World Series and the 2012 PG/EvoShield Upperclass National Championship.

“It’s been awesome,” Bellinger said of his PG experiences in the spring of 2013, just ahead of the start of his senior season at Hamilton HS. “My first really big (showcase) was in Minnesota and that’s when I kind of kick-started my offseason and started getting noticed by people; showing them what I could do in front of a ton of scouts. All those tournaments are really big deals and they help, and they’re always a lot of fun.”

Bellinger, the son of former big-league infielder Clay Bellinger, is the eighth player with a PG history to be named the NL ROY since 2008. He joins Geovany Soto (2008), Chris Coghlan (2009), Buster Posey (2010), Bryce Harper (2012), Jose Fernandez (2013), Kris Bryant (2015) and Seager (2016). Like Bellinger, Bryant and Seager were also unanimous selections.

The scouting report filed after his PG National performance read: “Long and lean slender build, extremely projectable. Left-handed hitter, tall stance, loose aggressive swing with plus bat speed, sound hitting mechanics, ball comes off his bat very hard, can dream on his bat speed with 20-30 more pounds of strength.”

Bellinger, who celebrated his 22nd birthday in July, added those 30 pounds between his PG National Showcase and his big-league debut, and that report proved to be prophetic. His robust power-hitting potential came into focus when he became the first Dodger in history to hit five home runs in his first 11 starts.

He blasted nine bombs in the month of May and reached 22 home runs faster than anyone in major league history. Bellinger hit his record-breaking 39th home run on Sept. 22 off the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija; he had six two-homer games and the Dodgers went 28-5 in games when he hit a home run.

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