Is Cody Bellinger just another glorified James Loney?
As Cody Bellinger’s prospect stock continues to rise, I’ve started to hear two things that intrigue me.
- He should be untouchable because of his perfect timeline within the Dodger organization.
- He’s basically a hyped James Loney
His timeline does in fact, match up perfectly for the Dodgers. Adrian Gonzalez will be off the books at the end of 2018 at which point IF Bellinger matches the hype, he would be the perfect replacement, not only from a cost issue but from a production issue. But that should not make him untouchable. Yes, people throw around untouchable a little too easy these days when we know no one is untouchable if the price is right, but in this context, it should take something significant to pry Bellinger away from the Dodgers. Bellinger is the best prospect on the team replacing Cory Seager and Julio Urias from last year. Seager in one year has proven he’s an MVP talent, while Urias still has much to prove given he’s rightfully been handled with kid gloves. I don’t think the Dodgers will trade him, but if they do I’m sure the return will make Dodger fans giddy for 2017 to start.
Regarding being a glorified James Loney. Yes, they are both 1st baseman. Yes, they are both left handed. Yes, they have both been young for their respective minor league seasons. Yes, they both had a reputation in the minors for being excellent glove men.
That is the end of the comparison.
Loney had the great rookie league season and the hype built from there but he never replicated that production until the major leagues where he inexplicably proved the scouts right by having two great 1/2 seasons before normalizing into the player he would become the rest of his career. His minor league career did nothing to suggest he would be anything more than what he became. A good glove man, decent OBP numbers, little power.
Bellinger is athletic enough to play the outfield, including center field. Bellinger can run, Loney never could. Yet the real difference is the power tool. Loney never displayed power in the minor leagues and in fact hit one home run in his final season in AAA while playing in the offensive PCL league. Over his minor league career, James Loney hit 38 home runs in 2600 Plate Appearances. Bellinger has hit 60 home runs in only 1440 minor league plate appearances. And he hasn’t even had a full season in the PCL yet. You want power from your 1st baseman and for the first time in decades, the Dodgers have a legitimate power hitting 1st baseman as a prospect. Bellinger led his age group in home runs in 2016 with 26 between AA and AAA. He’s turned 21 back in July but for baseball purposes, his 2016 season was his age 20 season.
Prospects being what they are, the signs look good for Cody Bellinger but many things could change between being a highly ranked prospect and turning that into a slugging 1st baseman. MLB is littered with the failures of highly ranked prospects, but at this point in time, I don’t think there is any comparison between what James Loney in the winter of 2005 was expected to bring to the table compared to the winter of 2016 Cody Bellinger.
FTR – Rotowire has him as their top Dodger prospect, Fangraphs has him as their 2nd Dodger prospect, MLB has him as their top Dodger prospect. Being the top or even 2nd best prospect in a still loaded Dodger system is nice from a ranking point of view.
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