Josh Bell Ranks Second Among First Base Prospects

For the second year in a row, MLB Pipeline picked Josh Bell as one of the top first base prospects in the minors. Last year, Bell got the nod as the best prospect at his position despite the fact he had not played a regular season game at first base yet. This year, he finished second behind A.J. Reed of the Astros. Bell ended up hitting .307/.376/.427 in 96 games with Altoona in 2015, then moved up to Indianapolis and hit .347/.441/.504 in 35 games there. On top of that, he batted .444 in eight playoff games.

Bell’s timetable to the majors will depend on how much progress he shows in the field and from the right side of the plate. His defense was rough in 2015, but his off-season workouts this year revolved around getting more agile at the position and getting better at making throws, as the switch from an outfield to an infield last year was not seamless. He was also working on a leg kick at the plate last year, which should allow him to display more in-game power. You can view videos here of his defensive work and his time in the batting cages from Pirates mini-camp last week. You can compare videos in that link to see how much better he looks from the right side this winter.

Yesterday, both Elias Diaz and Reese McGuire ranked among the top six catchers in the minors. They followed Tyler Glasnow getting ranked second overall among right-handed pitchers.

  • Its a good thing Dom Smith isn’t a Pirate prospect. He would be slammed on here for the lack of power by a number of the esteemed regular commenters. I can see the critiques now…

  • John … Any idea if Bell’s prospect ranking would change if he was considered an OF? It seems is he was an OFer with another organization, he would only need to work on his RH swing. But as a 1Bman he gets downgraded because his defense needs work and may never be league average.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    January 22, 2016 11:05 pm

    BTW, we could have drafted AJ Reed, when we instead opted for Conner Joe…sigh……

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    January 22, 2016 11:03 pm

    I’m excited about this kid…I hope he rips it up in Indy right from the get go in 2016, and forces the Pirates to promote him sooner than later……a kid like Bell, if he performs per his potential, could be a real X factor. He, along with Polanco and Glasnow.
    Those three could put us over the top….

    • Think we under-estimate how big Taillon could be. He’s more experienced than Glasnow and already had better control, which is really important in the Majors. IF he can come back and pitch competitively how he was reported to be pitching in FL, I think that it is Taillon that is the BIG addition to this staff.

  • Will be fascinating to see how much they use Bell at first during Spring Training – and how much they use him against Lefties.

    • Hopefully Jaso/Morse get the lions share.

    • Bell probably won’t see much time during Spring Training. Players like him, Taillon and Glasnow are going to be among the first players sent down due to the rules for Spring Training. They have a cutoff date(last year was March 15 I believe), where if any player on the 40-man roster gets injured and they haven’t been reassigned yet, they have to go on the Major League DL. They don’t want any of those three starting their clock early, so they will be sent down long before the rosters are decided

  • Projected date to arrive in Pittsburgh
    June 2?
    July 2?
    August 2?
    September 2?
    What do we do with the 3 1st basemen we have now?

    • Well the super 2 date is usually around June 10th, but I think adding Jaso adds a bit of mystery to Bell’s arrival. If he’s hitting well, showing power and an improved glove, then Bell is going to be up on June 10th(approx) and they will instead be finding room for Jaso. If Bell isn’t close to a finished product, then there isn’t a need to rush him on the first possible date UNLESS Jaso and/or the Pirates are struggling.

      At minimum, it will be fun watching which hashtag gains the most steam going into June. #FreeGlasnow? #FreeTaillon? #FreeBell?

      • John, anyone else other than those three? Diaz?

        • Elias Diaz will be up if they need an injury replacement before September, otherwise we will see in when the rosters expand. Alen Hanson should be up at some point, but he isn’t the type you hold back for super 2, neither is Diaz.

          We could see plenty of other prospects, but it will be someone who has a great season and earns a look late, like Kuhl, Brault, Williams, Frazier, Moroff, Osuna.

          Then we could see Willy Garcia if he learns that pitchers have more than fastballs. Maybe Gift Ngoepe comes up for the end of the bench. I don’t think he will ever hit enough to be a regular, but his glove at multiple positions, along with his ability to run, should get him a regular bench spot down the line.

      • i’m going with august 2

        • It’s totally possible, the trading deadline was moved to August 1st this year, so if the Pirates can’t swing a deal, they may go with Bell. Basically, any date after June 10th wouldn’t surprise me, but other factors we don’t know about right now will weigh into the decision.

      • #freeAAA.

      • My money’s on #FreeGlasnowTaillonBell.

      • I would be quite happy IF the Pirates could free them all around the same time. I think Taillon, honestly, is the x-factor to this season for the Pirates.

    • Four – don’t forget Sean Hurdle…

      • Sean said he isn’t going to be playing 1st much this year in an interview he did on the radio. His presence at the position last year was mainly due to the void left my Pedro’s glove.

        But someone here or BD worked it out that s-rod is more or less 1st backup to as many as 6 positions on the field barring one of the AAA guys breaking camp with the team and taking some spots from him.

      • Sean Hurdle. Ha! I like that one. …in his wallet right behind his Sean Hurdle ID are compromising photos of NH, FC, and Nutting.

        • I do not get the dislike for S-Rod. He was playig out of position last season. He will be fine in a super-utility role. If anything , hate Huntington for his lousy roster construction that forced Hurdle to play him at 1B and SS.

    • 2017 would be nice.

    • Good questions.

      What will be very interesting is where the Pirates are in the standings…if Jaso is defending well enough, swinging a good bat, and the Pirates are holding down a playoff spot…can the Pirates afford to call up Bell?

  • That bodes well for the Pirates in 2016. Is it safe to say that this recognition by MLB Pipeline as one of the Top 1B Prospects was based on his quality of work on both aspects of play – offensive and defensive? He is obviously going to get much better recognition on his hitting at AA and AAA, but this is a very nice honor for someone with just one year of experience at the position. That’s a very nice pat on the back for a kid who worked very hard. Reminds me of when Neil Walker was selected as the best defensive 3B in the Eastern League after only one year of work at 3B after being switched from C.

    • I think it was despite his defense because the bat projects so well

    • To be fair em, Walker wasn’t all that great. My seat was right in line with him, and he wasn’t J-Hay, I can promise you that.