Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Top Prospects: #4 – Josh Bell

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

9. Kyle McPherson

8. Stetson Allie

7. Tony Sanchez

6. Robbie Grossman

5. Luis Heredia

We continue the countdown with the number four prospect, Josh Bell.

The Pirates gave Josh Bell $5 M in 2011 to sign as a second round pick.

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.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Anonymous

    So that leaves Cole, Taillon, and Marte….Or Taillon, Cole, Marte. Personally I feel Cole will be the better top of the rotation candidate.

  • Anonymous

    If Taillon can add a mean streak to his mound presence he could become a Josh Beckett type pitcher for us and turn out to be better then Cole. Right now, I think Cole has a slight edge over Taillon for top prospect, but if Taillon adds that mean streak he will be the better of the two in my opinion…

  • Anonymous

    Tim, I like these top ten reports and I am anxiously awaiting my prospect guide. Last years guide is always within reach and I have read it cover to cover at least 10 times. this site seems to get better and better every day. Keep up the good work and I look forward to reading reports from you, Kevin, Wilbur, Nancy, etc. throughout the season!!!!!

  • Murray Passarieu

    I agree Tim.  I love these reports, but I’m really hoping Bell can be up before 2015!!!  It seems like all our prospects take longer to develop than other teams.  It’s probably just my impatience, but still, if he’s that great why can’t he be up when he’s 20 or 21?  It’s not like that would be unprecedented.

    • john.alcorn

      Baseball prospectus did a study on this last year (wish I still had the link). If I recall we were among the fastest teams in getting pitchers to the bigs (fewest MiLB innings), but among the slowest with position prospects (most MiLB ab’s). There were many caveats due to the fact that they just looked at a 5 or 7 year window and most of that time was the DL era where we picked a lot of college pitchers who would be expected to move faster. That said it was the only comp I’ve ever seen on the subject.

  • Anonymous

    I guess it just depends how he does, he destroys at West Virginia next year the Pirates could be aggressive with him like they did with Matt Curry.

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