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
18. Vic Black, RHP
13. Tony Sanchez, C
11. Clay Holmes, RHP
We continue the countdown with the number 6 prospect, 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.