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First Pitch: What Are the Expectations For Josh Bell in 2013?

Josh Bell lost a year last year, and in the process, fell off all of the national top 100 lists. Every Pirates top 10 list that I’ve seen has Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson ahead of Bell after those two had breakout seasons while Bell was out with his injury. So what can we expect in 2013 from Bell, after he missed the majority of the 2012 season?

First, I don’t think that the lost season is overly damaging. Bell was a bit older than the average high schooler in his first pro season. He was 19 at the start of the year last year, and turned 20 in August. By comparison, fellow 2011 draft pick Clay Holmes doesn’t turn 20 for another month. Tyler Glasnow doesn’t turn 20 until August. While Bell is a bit older than those other 2011 prep picks, he was also starting out ahead of them. The placement in West Virginia was aggressive — although it’s one of those situations where you expect a top player to receive an aggressive placement, which makes the placement seem less aggressive than it actually is. Bell missed most of the season, and will most likely return to West Virginia in 2013.

Holmes will probably be joining him there, and Glasnow could be there as well, depending on how his Spring goes. That would be a slightly aggressive placement for each player, but a more common approach than the push Bell got in 2012. Because he missed most of the year, Bell now goes from having an aggressive push, to having the expected aggressive push for a high schooler. If we think about what would have happened if he had gone to college, he probably wouldn’t have reached high-A until 2015. It’s definitely possible that he could be there by the end of the 2013 season, and he’ll definitely be there in 2014.

That’s not to say that the missed time didn’t hurt him. We saw Robbie Grossman repeat a year in high-A after initially getting that aggressive push out of high school to West Virginia. Grossman had to repeat a year to fix his poor strikeout numbers. Bell didn’t improve on anything in his lost year. He had a few red flags early in the 2012 season, with some alarming strikeout numbers. Some of that could have been due to a heavy diet of changeups. It could also be due to the fact that Bell had never played in cold weather before, prior to his time in West Virginia. Either way, he’s using his repeat year in 2013, which means he can’t afford another lost year with strike zone issues.

Other than that, I don’t see why Bell is any different now than this time last year. The knee injury isn’t a long-term thing, and doesn’t hurt his value. The bulk of his value comes from his hitting ability. He has the potential to be a plus hitter with plus power from each side of the plate. Last year I was impressed watching how the ball exploded off his bat in batting practice. I saw the same thing today. Bell said he added some muscle weight last year, which is only helping him make better contact. On that note, he said he was up to 240, and his listed weight on every profile is 195 pounds. That doesn’t mean he added 45 pounds last year. The listed weights are never updated. Bell was 213 pounds in last year’s media guide, which came out before the season.

My expectations for Bell this time around are the same as last year. I’m optimistic because of his potential, and looking forward to seeing what he can do over a full season in the pros. Hopefully this time around he’ll get that chance.

Daily Photos

I take a lot of photos throughout the day at Pirate City and McKechnie Field. Each night I’ll post some of the daily photos in this section to give you a view of what’s going on, and a look at some of the prospects in the system.

From left to right: Max Moroff, Dilson Herrera, Stetson Allie, Luis Urena.

From left to right: Max Moroff, Dilson Herrera, Stetson Allie, Luis Urena.

Luis Urena (left) and Dilson Herrera (right).

Luis Urena (left) and Dilson Herrera (right).

Alen Hanson fielding ground balls.

Alen Hanson fielding ground balls.

Jin-De Jhang getting ready to catch Clay Holmes' bullpen.

Jin-De Jhang getting ready to catch Clay Holmes’ bullpen.

Clay Holmes throwing that bullpen.

Clay Holmes throwing that bullpen.

2012 compensation pick Barrett Barnes.

2012 first round compensation pick Barrett Barnes.

Hunter Strickland throwing a bullpen.

Hunter Strickland throwing a bullpen.

Wandy Rodriguez in the third inning of today's game at McKechnie.

Wandy Rodriguez in the third inning of today’s game at McKechnie.

One more of Rodriguez.

One more of Rodriguez.

Links and Notes

**Prospect Notebook: Josh Bell Has Been Working Out at IMG Academy.

**Pirates Notebook: Leroux Getting His Strength Back; Burnett’s Spring Prep.

**I mentioned how Josh Bell is still listed at 195 on most sites, even though he’s been documented above that since the draft. He’s not the only case. I was looking at Gregory Polanco’s weight about a week ago, since he’s been listed as 6′ 4″, 170 pounds for a long time. Polanco went up to 196 pounds in the 2011 media guide, and 206 in the 2012 media guide. The 2013 guide isn’t out yet, but when it is we’ll be starting on a project to update the height and weight on every player page to get more accurate figures.

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

    “The knee injury isn’t a long-term thing,”

    Let’s hope.

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

    Btw, your NUMBER ONE goal in ST is to get a new picture of Adelberto Santos….lol
    That one last year was horrible! :)

  • http://twitter.com/WarrenTMcC WarrenTMcC

    Tim,

    Love the photo section – what’s the status with Barrett Barnes injury? Is he fully recovered from the stress fracture in his lower leg? Thanks!

  • leadoff

    IMO, he probably could play the outfield or first base, but when you look at the talent they have coming in the outfield and what they have already have I find it hard to believe they will keep him in the outfield when first base is still a weak position talent wise throughout the organization.

    • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

      A lot of MLB 1Bmen didnt start off as 1Bmen, they moved from other positions. There’s really no reason to move him to 1B now unless his knee continues to get him problems in the OF. Until then, he should stay in the OF.

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