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Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Top Prospects: #6 – Josh Bell

The Pirates Prospects 2013 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features over 250 prospect reports, the 2013 top 50 prospects, 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 20 prospects over the next few weeks.  Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site.

To recap the countdown so far:

20. Jin-De Jhang, C

19. Andrew Oliver, LHP

18. Vic Black, RHP

17. Adrian Sampson, RHP

16. Wyatt Mathisen, C

15. Bryan Morris, RHP

14. Justin Wilson, LHP

13. Tony Sanchez, C

12. Dilson Herrera, 2B

11. Clay Holmes, RHP

10. Nick Kingham, RHP

9. Kyle McPherson, RHP

8. Tyler Glasnow, RHP

7. Barrett Barnes, OF

We continue the countdown with the number 6 prospect, Josh Bell.

Josh Bell

Josh Bell

6. Josh Bell, OF

Even if he never makes the majors, Bell might be remembered as one of the key reasons for Major League Baseball changing their draft. The outfielder, represented by Scott Boras, sent a letter to every team telling them not to draft him. Because of the letter, he fell to the Pirates in the second round, past several very interested teams. 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. That was a big factor in MLB cracking down on over-slot deals starting in 2012.

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’s got the offensive upside that you can dream on. He showed a lot of that upside with some great hitting during Spring Training, heading into the 2012 season.

The outfielder made his pro debut in 2012, starting off in West Virginia. The debut was short lived, with Bell going down at the end of April with a knee injury. He required surgery to repair a torn meniscus, and missed the rest of the season due to swelling in the knee during the rehab process. The Pirates played it safe, shutting him down in September for the off-season so that he could return healthy for Spring Training in 2013.

Before his injury, Bell struggled in limited at-bats in West Virginia. He started off slow the first few weeks, with a lot of strikeouts. The Texas-native noted that this was his first experience playing in cold weather. He also faced a heavy diet of changeups in the first few games, which is something he wouldn’t have seen in high school. His injury resulted in a lost year of development, preventing him from adjusting to either issue as the season went on.

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. He could go back to West Virginia in 2013 due to the lost season and the strikeout issues when he was healthy. 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. The lost season doesn’t totally hurt him since he was aggressively pushed in 2012. He should get another chance to show his potential in 2013.

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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 AccuScore.com, 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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Alex Dickerson Named to MLB.com’s Top 10 First Base Prospects

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

    Whaddaya mean “Even if he never makes the majors,”

    ????????????????

    DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT EVER SAYING THAT AGAIN!!!!!!

    :) :)

  • japple2298

    GOOD ONE LEE !!!!

  • emjayinTN

    Developmentally, he should probably return to Lo A West Virginia, but with the knee issue I would prefer he stay at extended ST in Bradenton, and possibly put him with Polanco, Osuna, and Hanson at Hi A. Bell struggled at Lo A but batted .274.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ian.rothermund Ian Rothermund

      I just don’t see any reason for him to be thrown into high-A already. He only had about a months worth of playing time in West Virginia last year. I think they’ll definitely have him in extended spring training, they seem to like to do that with their top guys, but even if he’s completely tearing up low-A, I’d prefer he actually get somet time there. At least half a season if he’s doing well.

      When scouts and reporters talk about prospect development being non-linear, Bell’s situation matches that perfectly. Let him work out his issues with the change-up and even the weather, to a lesser degree. He’ll still only be what, 20 this season?

      He still has a long way to go, so I don’t see any point in rushing him in the opening stages of his career.

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