Josh Bell has the numbers for a promotion, but a weakness against left-handers.

Top 10 Hitters: Could Josh Bell Be in Line For a Promotion Soon?

Below are the top Runs Created* totals in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the last week. The rankings include every hitter who had an at-bat for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, with no limitations on whether the hitter has prospect eligibility. Notes on the top ten players from the last week can be found below the chart.

*Runs Created is a stat created by Bill James used to estimate how many runs an individual contributes to his team. There are many formulas for runs created. For these purposes the basic formula is used. That formula is ((H + BB) * (1B + (2*2B) + (3*3B) + (4*HR))) / (AB + BB).

The Top Ten

1. Josh Bell, OF – Josh Bell was on a hot streak leading up to the FSL All-Star break. He went 6-for-13 with a double and three homers, giving him nine on the season. The more important thing with Bell is that he’s starting to hit left-handers. In my writeup on May 26th, I noted that he had a .620 OPS against lefties. He’s currently sitting at a .797 OPS after a surge the last few weeks. Bell has a swing from the right side that looks awkward and off-balanced at times. He does show potential at times from the right side, but that wasn’t consistent at the start of the season. He’s doing a better job of that lately. Pair that with his .921 OPS against right-handers, and Bell could be in line for a promotion to Altoona in the next month.

2. Wyatt Mathisen, 3B – Mathisen made the move to third base this year, where he’s going to need his bat to provide more value than when he was behind the plate. He has a .692 OPS on the season, although he’s heating up in June. He’s got a .357/.471/.429 line in 42 at-bats this month. There hasn’t been a lot of power, but he’s hitting for average and getting on base, which is a good start.

3. Matt Hague, 1B – Hague’s value is ultimately a backup for Gaby Sanchez in the first base platoon against left-handers. He has a .949 OPS against lefties in 58 at-bats in Triple-A this year, which is in line with his career numbers. He has done better against right-handers lately, with a .776 OPS on the season. Unless Sanchez goes down with an injury, Hague will probably be blocked from Pittsburgh.

4. Alen Hanson, SS – The shortstop currently has a 12 game hitting streak, continuing his impressive hitting since the middle of April. Just like last year, Hanson struggled the first two weeks of the season. Since week three, he has a .296/.330/.483 line in 203 at-bats. Last year he was promoted at the end of July, after a very similar “struggle for two weeks, then start hitting” approach. I wouldn’t expect him to be promoted to Indianapolis anytime soon, but wouldn’t rule out such a promotion for the final month of the season if he continues hitting well.

5. Justin Howard, 1B – Howard posted some nice numbers in Altoona last year, with an .864 OPS. He hasn’t shown the same bat this year, with a .641 OPS. He turns 27 later this year, which means his future will be an upper level organizational guy.

6. Harold Ramirez, OF – Ramirez went 8-for-22 in the last week with two doubles, and currently has a ten game hitting streak. He’s been hitting well in the month of June, with a .327 average and an .858 OPS. On the season he has a .291 average and a .760 OPS. He’s one of the top ten prospects in the system for his skills at the plate, and those skills are starting to show through in games at this higher level.

7. Matt Curry, 1B – Curry was once one of the more promising first base prospects in the system, but has recently been moved to a bench role in Altoona. He’s hitting well lately, with an OPS over 1.000 in the month of June, but that’s only in 27 at-bats. Just like Howard, he’s looking like an upper level organizational guy.

8. Chris Dickerson, OF – He continues to hit this year, with a .313 average and an .896 OPS on the season. Dickerson could eventually find a spot in Pittsburgh. For that to happen, he would need to see the Pirates get rid of Jose Tabata and Travis Snider. Snider has done a decent job this month, with a .784 OPS. Tabata has been better this month, with an .871 OPS. It would be hard to see Dickerson coming up with both players playing well off the bench right now.

9. Reese McGuire, C – McGuire finished the week strong, with three straight multi-hit games and his first pro home run. His bat is more about potential than results right now, as shown by his .277/.345/.335 line. He does have good hitting skills, and good plate patience. The offense will eventually come, and his ability to make solid contact and use the middle of the field projects well for future power production.

10. Robert Andino, SS – Andino went 8-for-29 in the last week, with two doubles. He’s an organizational guy for the upper levels, and would be unlikely to get a promotion to Pittsburgh unless they saw several injuries at the shortstop position.

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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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  • R Edwards

    A lot of people assume Bell will be a future first baseman, given the Pirates crowded OF and barren first base situation. if that is indeed true, has he been playing any first base this season for Bradenton?

    • Matt Beam

      more value as an OF if he’s used as a trade chip, plus we now have Ike for the next few years

      • R Edwards

        “plus we now have Ike for the next few years”

        Please no, I hope not!

    • emjayinTN

      RE: Better yet, did he ever play 1B even in HS? Oh, and here I go again – Alen Hanson could be better off at SS for Indianapolis. His bat will play, and his mental approach to defense could be improved by being surrounded by veterans. Move Andino to 2B and let them work together.

  • Y2JGQ2

    No, he hasn’t, and he won’t until its necessary because the change of positions will lower his trade value. If we decide we aren’t going to move him this year, I would think he’d begin working out at first base during this offseason or even as late as next off season depending on when he’s promoted to AA

    • smurph

      I agree Y2. He is worth more as an outfielder, and he is worth more if he is tearing up AAA (as an outfielder). If he gets to the point where he is handling AAA pitching, then you either make him a 1B or trade him for a quality ML player.

  • freddylang

    I am hoping Bell goes to AA and plays good enough to maybe even get himself to the Arizona Fall League and really hop on the fast track.

  • leadoff

    Bell will be ready for the majors before the Pirates need him, don’t forget Rojas is ahead of him right now and he is not going to crack the Pirate outfield as long as the 3 amigos are there and when Meadows gets going he will also push his way up, looks like the Pirates could make some trades in the near future.

  • LetsGoMarauders

    We need a big League Pirates 1 and Pirates 2 so everyone can play :-)

  • LongJohnSilver

    I wish the Pirates would move Adalberto Santos. He is being totally wasted at Indy just because he isn’t a “power hitter”.

  • CTBucco

    Tim – Would you, could you include a column showing how many previous weeks this year that a player has appeared in the top10? Or, perhaps, has exceeded some threshold indicating high level plays, e.g. had 5 or more RC in a week? Ditto for pitchers. It would be nice to see a view on a prospect’s whole season to date.

  • Monsoon Harvard

    I could see Bell getting to Altoona and adjusting to the pitching after about a month. Then he should go to the Arizona Fall League after the season. I think Mathisen ought to go to the AFL too this October.
    I’ll be pissed off if they trade Bell.

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