The annual ranking of MLB's Top 100 prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. Only players with rookie status entering the 2017 season are eligible for the list. Players who were at least 23 years old when they signed and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.
Bellinger, the 21-year-old son of former Major Leaguer Clay Bellinger, was a fourth-round Draft pick in 2013 who hit only four home runs in his first 98 professional games through 2014. The next year he erupted with 30 homers and 103 RBIs at Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga and has been a can't-miss prospect since as his 6-foot-4 frame has filled out to 210 pounds.
Promoted to Double-A in 2016, Bellinger hit 23 homers with 65 RBIs, and then in a three-game callup to Triple-A Oklahoma City, he went an eye-popping 6-for-11 with three homers. He continued to impress in the Arizona Fall League that followed.
Bellinger's most obvious improvement from 2015 to '16 was cutting down on his strikeout ratio, despite missing a month with a sore hip.
Defensively, Bellinger has a Gold Glove Award-caliber fluidity at first base and he's naturally athletic enough to play any of the outfield positions, which might accelerate his arrival as first base is currently blocked by consistent Dodgers run-producer Adrian Gonzalez.
Right-handed pitcher Yadier Alvarez, the Dodgers' No. 2 prospect, was ranked No. 49 on the Top 100, shooting up 42 spots. The other Dodgers on the list are outfielder Alex Verdugo (61), second baseman Willie Calhoun (82) and right-handed pitcher Walker Buehler (93).
The Dodgers scored 207 prospect points, ranking 12th on the Top 100 list. Los Angeles tied for fourth with five prospects on the list. Each prospect on the list is assigned a point value as follows: 100 for No. 1; 99 for No. 2; 98 for No. 3, etc.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.