Los Angeles Dodgers Looking at Outfield Upgrades

Mar 13, 2017; Tempe, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger (61) during a spring training game against the Los Angeles Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been keeping tabs on a potential trade with the Milwaukee Brewers for Ryan Braun, but will possibly look to outfield prospect Cody Bellinger for an upgrade until a deal can be worked out.

The Los Angeles Dodgers‘ interest in Ryan Braun has been known for several seasons, and it was recently reported that the Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers have discussed another potential deal. However, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reported that the teams are currently not discussing a deal.

Instead, Shaikin wrote, the Dodgers are keeping an eye on first base/outfield prospect Cody Bellinger as a potential offensive upgrade. While Yasiel Puig is in the midst of a rebound season, Joc Pederson and Andrew Toles have yet to hit a consistent groove, and both have averages under .250.

As a whole, the Dodgers offense ranks seventh in the majors with 60 runs scored, but sub-par production from two outfielders could be cause for concern going forward. In 39 plate appearances in Triple-A, Bellinger is hitting .371/.436/.657 with two homers and seven runs scored. In addition to his bat, Bellinger already has four steals on the season.

While Bellinger has traditionally played first base, the Dodgers used him at all three outfield spots in spring training. This past Sunday, Shaikin noted that Bellinger hit a game-tying home run and a game-winning single.

Bellinger is ranked as the Dodgers’ top prospect by MLB.com and the number-10 prospect in all of baseball. Last season in Double-A, Bellinger hit .263/.359/.484 with 23 home runs and eight stolen bases. In 2015 in High-A, he hit 30 homers with a .873 OPS.

It’s worth noting that Bellinger, 21, owns a 28.2 percent strikeout rate to start this season. His 20.2 percent strikeout rate last season may be more indicative of how he’ll fare as a pro, but it’s unclear how well he could transition to the majors with limited Triple-A experience.

Bellinger began his career as a contact hitter, but became a premier power threat in the minors after adding more loft to his swing. With Adrian Gonzalez under contract with the Dodgers for two more seasons, it’s clear that Bellinger’s career with the team will begin in the outfield.

If the Dodgers don’t want to give up Bellinger in a trade for Braun, Bellinger’s time with the big league club could come sooner rather than later.

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