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Cody Bellinger tops Baseball America top 10 Dodgers prospect list for 2017

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Cuban RHP Yadier Alvarez climbs all the way to No. 2.

Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-Fall Stars Game
Cody Bellinger has 56 home runs in the last two minor league seasons.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The folks at Baseball America revealed their top 10 Dodgers prospects heading into the 2017 season on Friday, with first baseman and outfielder Cody Bellinger topping the list.

Bellinger, 21, hit .271/.365/.507 with 26 home runs in 117 games in 2016, all but three games with Double-A Tulsa. He finished up the season with three games with Triple-A Oklahoma City then continued with OKC during the Pacific Coast League playoffs. He showed his versatility with 26 outfield starts — including 11 in center field -- in addition to his 81 starts at first base.

The 2013 fourth-round pick capped his stellar season by hitting .314/.424/.557 with eight doubles and three home runs in 20 games for Glendale in the Arizona Fall League.

Ben Badler wrote that Bellinger could make his major league debut in 2017 — likely in the outfield, with Adrian Gonzalez signed through 2018 — and said, “Bellinger has a chance to be a foundational hitter in the middle of a lineup who can also save runs with his fielding at first base.”

Bellinger climbed the Baseball America prospect list last season, from the 54th-best prospect before 2016 — and fifth among Dodgers — to the No. 24 spot at midseason.

Cuban right-hander Yadier Alvarez, who was the organization’s 10th-ranked prospect last year before throwing a pitch as a professional, checks in at No. 2 after an impressive pro debut. Alvarez, who turns 21 in March, put up a 2.12 ERA between the Arizona Rookie League and Class-A Great Lakes in 2016, with 81 strikeouts and 21 walks in 59⅓ innings.

Starting pitcher Jose De Leon, who was ranked 25th in BA’s midseason rankings last year, checks in just behind those two, as the third-ranked Dodgers prospect this year.

De Leon made his major league debut after striking out 111 in 86⅓ innings against only 20 walks, posting a 2.61 ERA in 16 starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City. In his brief major league stint in September, De Leon was 2-0 with a 6.35 ERA in four starts, with 15 strikeouts and seven walks in 17 innings.

Bellinger’s Tulsa Trio (soon to be OKC Three?) teammates Alex Verdugo and Willie Calhoun are ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, with those three the Dodgers top-ranked position players.

Baseball America remains high on Cuban outfielder Yusniel Diaz, ranked the seventh-best Dodgers prospect, up two spots from last year after hitting .272/.333/.418 as a 19-year-old in the Cal League in his U.S. pro debut.

“Diaz has the upside to develop into an everyday center fielder,” Badler wrote, “but has to make adjustments to handle better pitching.”

The duo who each climbed three levels to make their major league debuts in 2016 — outfielder Andrew Toles and pitcher Brock Stewart — are ranked sixth and eighth, respectively.

The highest-ranked newcomer on this Baseball America list is shortstop Gavin Lux, the Dodgers’ first-round draft pick in 2016 out of Indian Trail High School in Kenosha, Wisconsin, checking in at ninth. Lux hit .296/.375/.399 with 18 extra-base hits in 56 games between Arizona and rookie-level Ogden. He turned 19 in November.

Austin Barnes, expected to have a larger major league role in 2017, rounds out the top 10.

2017 Baseball America top 10 Dodgers prospects

2017 Rank Player Pos 2017 age 2016 Rank
2017 Rank Player Pos 2017 age 2016 Rank
1 Cody Bellinger 1B/OF 21 5
2 Yadier Alvarez RHP 21 10
3 Jose De Leon RHP 24 3
4 Alex Verdugo OF 21 7
5 Willie Calhoun 2B 22 13
6 Andrew Toles OF 25 NR
7 Yusniel Diaz OF 20 9
8 Brock Stewart RHP 25 NR
9 Gavin Lux SS 19 n/a
10 Austin Barnes C/IF 27 8
Age is as of June 30, 2017