LOS ANGELES -- Like most of what's happened to Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger this season, what will happen today in his T-Mobile Home Run Derby debut is mind blowing. Watch it live on ESPN at 5 p.m. PT.
"I've thought about it some nights, just let it soak in and realize it's actually happening, and it's hard to believe," Bellinger said. "like I've said before, I couldn't imagine doing this in my dreams. It's going to be awesome."
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Bellinger is 21. He's been a Major Leaguer for 2 1/2 months. He leads the National League with 25 home runs.
But Bellinger is seeded third of eight in the Derby, facing the Rockies' Charlie Blackmon in the first round. If Bellinger wins that round, he'll need to get past the winner of the Aaron Judge-Justin Bour matchup for a trip to the finals, with No. 1 seed Giancarlo Stanton enjoying home-field advantage. A Dodger has never won the event. Joc Pederson finished second in 2015, edged by Todd Frazier.
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Bellinger won't have the additional burden of beating a friend, because he hasn't been around long enough to develop relationships with the other competitors.
"From what I know around the league, Blackmon is an awesome dude, but I don't know any of these guys. I'm new, man," Bellinger joked. "But I can't wait to watch Stanton live. I've been watching him the past few years in the Derby hitting bombs and it will be cool being there."
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Bellinger's chosen pitcher is his father, Clay Bellinger, a former outfielder with the Yankees, who's been throwing batting practice to his son since Cody first swung a bat. That might be the only comfortable aspect of the whole competition.
"It's going to be weird when I'm there," Cody said. "Your whole life as a kid, you watch it and, you're like, 'I'll never be there.' When I accepted, it could be a once in a lifetime, you know? It'll be an awesome experience for me and my dad."
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.