MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Bellinger's bat proves the difference in Glendale win

Dodgers' No. 1 drives in three runs with a pair of doubles

Bellinger's bat proves the difference in Glendale win

MESA, Ariz. -- On Tuesday, the Mesa Solar Sox no-hit the Surprise Saguaros. A day later, thanks largely to a wash of Dodger Blue, the Glendale Desert Dogs made sure there wasn't a repeat with a 7-4 victory at Mesa's Sloan Park.

Cody Bellinger drove in three runs with a pair of doubles, Alex Verdugo drove in a run of his own and starter Chris Anderson went five strong innings for his first Arizona Fall League win as Glendale won its second in a row. They did it without fellow Dodger Willie Calhoun's hot bat, as the second baseman wasn't in the lineup on Wednesday.

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"We have a good group of guys here," Bellinger said. "We all just try to have fun here. With Willie and Verdugo, I'm living with them off the field. We do everything together and are trying to go up the ladder together."

More performances like Wednesday's certainly won't hurt. Bellinger, ranked No. 31 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 prospects list, grounded out in his first at-bat, but was right at the heart of Glendale's five-run fourth inning that erased an early 1-0 Mesa lead. The left-handed hitter doubled the other way off of Indians starter Michael Peoples to drive in a run, then came home on Cardinals catcher Carson Kelly's two-run single. Verdugo's single that brought in White Sox outfielder Courtney Hawkins wrapped up the scoring in the inning.

"He's got good stuff, he's got good offspeed, but he actually hung me a changeup," Bellinger said. "I tried to go with the pitch, not get too big. I tried to put a good swing on it and got it to the fence right there."

Meanwhile, Anderson was cruising. After allowing Cubs prospect Eloy Jimenez's RBI double in the second inning, he retired seven in a row. The right-hander finished with just four hits allowed in his five innings. He kept the ball down, inducing five groundball outs.

Bellinger further established his hitting bona fides in his next at-bat the very next inning. His double to center drove in two more runs, and this one came off of a lefty, Matt Dermody of the Blue Jays.

"Off that lefty lefty in the second at-bat, he got me before, with two strikeouts," Bellinger said. "I was trying to get too big in those at-bats. I knew the heater was coming and just tried to put a good swing on it again."

That the 21-year-old prospect could reference his early at-bats, even in the low-key atmosphere of the AFL, is a testament to the kind of hitter the son of former Clay Bellinger has the chance of becoming.

"That's how the game works," Bellinger said. "I hate when pitchers get me out multiple times. It's probably an ego thing, but I don't like that."

Pitchers certainly didn't get Bellinger out too frequently at the end of the 2016 season. He received a very late promotion from Double-A Tulsa to Triple-A Oklahoma City to help with the latter team's push for the Pacific Coast League playoffs. He promptly went 6-for-11 with three homers and six RBIs in three regular-season games, then added one more home run in the postseason.

"I was super hot at the end of Tulsa," Bellinger said. "I got up to Triple-A, I was new to the team and was just trying to put together good at-bats, barrel up some balls and help the team win, get momentum to the playoffs. That's how baseball works. You put some good swings on the ball and it goes out of there. I was feeling real good up there at the end."

It's carried over to his time in the AFL. The first baseman and outfielder is now hitting .311/.404/.489 for the fall, with five doubles, a home run and nine RBIs in 45 at-bats. He's among the league top 10 in doubles, RBIs and OPS, so it's no wonder he'll continue to represent the Dodgers well in Saturday's Fall Stars Game, along with Calhoun and Verdugo.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.