The Pirates Prospects 2012 Prospect Guide is now available, featuring over 250 prospect reports, the 2012 top 50 prospects, a feature on the top four pitching prospects in the system, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find. While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top ten prospects over the next week. Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site.
To recap the countdown so far:
10. Nick Kingham
7. Tony Sanchez
5. Luis Heredia
We continue the countdown with the number four prospect, Josh Bell.
4. Josh Bell, OF
For the second straight year the Pirates ended up with a top 15 overall prospect in the second round of the draft. This time they landed Josh Bell, who was one of the top prep hitters in the draft. Bell lasted until the second round after sending a letter out to every Major League team telling them not to draft him. He had a strong commitment to the University of Texas, but he also had Scott Boras as his adviser, which raised questions about his intentions.
The Pirates took the risk and threw $5 M his way, shattering the record for the biggest bonus outside of the first round, not just in team history, but in draft history. Bell received the bonus for good reason. He’s a switch hitter who has the potential to be a plus hitter from each side of the plate, with plus power from each side. He is a huge boost to a system that is deprived of power.
In his senior year in prep school, Bell had some amazing numbers. He displayed his power, hitting a home run every seven at-bats. He was walked in almost a third of his at-bats, and his slugging percentage was higher than most people’s OPS.
Bell has the speed to play center field, but he profiles more as a corner outfielder in the pros. His best position will be right field. He’s a smart kid, coming from a family where his mom is a college professor. He’s also very mature for his age, a trend that is common with a lot of young prospects in the system.
The Pirates will probably take a more aggressive approach with Bell in 2012, sending him to full season ball in West Virginia. He could arrive as early as the 2015 season, although 2016 seems more likely if the Pirates take it slow and progress him one level per year. He’s got a huge upside, and it’s not out of the question to think he could be a .300 hitter with 30 homer a year power one day.