The Pittsburgh Pirates have a lot of top prospects in their system. Jameson Taillon and Gregory Polanco have emerged as consensus top 25 prospects in baseball. Alen Hanson and Tyler Glasnow are both getting attention as top 50 prospects. Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire will most likely crack a lot of top 100 lists next year. Nick Kingham could also challenge for the back end of a few top 100 lists, while Luis Heredia has been on some lists before, and could remain depending on how people see his upside.
One player who has been overlooked has been Josh Bell. The outfielder was considered a top 100 prospect prior to the 2012 season, but missed most of the year with a knee injury. Bell could be back on at least one top 100 list, as Jim Callis says that he is close to the MLB.com top 100 list for 2014.
Callis notes that Bell has been passed up and overshadowed the last two years. He points out that Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson passed him with breakout years in 2012, followed by Tyler Glasnow and Stetson Allie making a lot of noise in 2013. Bell had a good season in 2013, with a .279/.353/.453 line, 37 doubles, and 13 homers. That’s what you would have wanted out of him when drafted, although the mega numbers by Allie overshadowed everyone at the level.
One thing that Callis points out is that scouts have said Bell is too upright from the right side of the plate. John Dreker mentioned several times on this site that scouts had issues with Bell’s swing from the right side. However, he did hit for a .302/.353/.491 line against left-handers.
At one time, Josh Bell was penciled in to future lineups in Pittsburgh. Now he’s kind of an afterthought with the emergence of Gregory Polanco, and Starling Marte settling in to the majors. If he continues to develop well, he could still be in the plans, possibly as a long-term first base option. He could also emerge as trade bait if the Pirates have a full outfield (AKA, if Polanco makes the successful jump to the majors) and they find another option for first. Either way, he’s still a top prospect, but the Pirates situation has gotten to the point where he’s more of a bonus than the necessity he was in 2011.