Pittsburgh Pirates 2016 Top Prospects: #3 – Josh Bell

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To recap the countdown so far:

20. Willy Garcia, RF
19. Clay Holmes, RHP
18. Mitch Keller, RHP
17. Max Moroff, 2B
16. Chad Kuhl, RHP
15. Cole Tucker, SS
14. Stephen Tarpley, LHP
13. Steven Brault, LHP
12. Yeudy Garcia, RHP
11. Kevin Newman, SS
10. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B
9. Nick Kingham, RHP
8. Elias Diaz, C
7. Reese McGuire, C
6. Harold Ramirez, OF
5. Alen Hanson, 2B
4. Jameson Taillon, RHP

We continue the countdown with the number 3 prospect, Josh Bell.

3. Josh Bell, 1B

The Pirates have no immediate need for outfielders in the majors, and have plenty of outfield prospects in the system who can take over as replacements in the long-term. That’s why the Pirates moved Bell to first base during the 2015 season, with the goal of getting his bat to the majors faster.

Bell has a ton of upside on offense. He’s got a quick, easy swing from the left side, with a lot of raw power potential. His swing from the right side is a concern, but there’s potential to hit for average, get on base and scouts think he could avoid a platoon situation. The bat has yet to break out in a big way. Part of that changed in 2015 when the Pirates started incorporating a leg kick into Bell’s swing. After struggling to get comfortable with the change, he made a slight adjustment in Indianapolis, and started seeing results, putting up some impressive power numbers at the end of the year.

The problem from the right side still exists, and wasn’t solved with the new leg kick. Bell has an open stance from the right side, allowing him to see the ball earlier. The Pirates allow the stance, but want him getting into a load position earlier. This creates a two-part swing that can often be disconnected and awkward. Bell also has some of the best hand to eye coordination in the system, which actually hurt him here, as he sometimes doesn’t even incorporate his lower half, leading to weaker contact.

The move to first base wasn’t pretty, which could be expected for a career outfielder. He looked like a beer league first baseman at the start of the year, with poor positioning and footwork. The defense improved as the year went on, but was still well below average. The footwork problems remained, and he some trouble setting up and doing basic things like catching throws. Bell has a ton of upside, with the ability to be an impact hitter in the majors. His defense needs improvement, and might always be poor, but the bat will make up for it. He’ll need to continue the improvements he had at the end of the 2015 season, and improve from the right side. He could make the jump to Pittsburgh as early as mid-2016, taking over as the long-term solution at first base.

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  • You have evidence supporting your claim that the Pirates favor Bell over Osuna because of money?

    A reply meant for Bruce Humbert below.

    • Bridgevillebuck
      February 3, 2016 10:32 pm

      Pirates Prospects, MLB pipeline, etc. appear to be in cahoots with the Pirates front office on Bell over Osuna…I’d like to see Bruce’s reasoning also. Wish we had Scott Van Slyke in the one game playoff against Arrietta….he would have turned that game and all it would have only cost Bell and a B pitcher…

      • I like Van Slykes kid too, but that’s a lot for a guy with a bad back.

        • Bridgevillebuck
          February 4, 2016 6:31 am

          Art, that was sarcasm. I think you could of brought in the MLB all star team and you weren’t gonna beat him during that run.

    • Look at how they have been handled – Osuna is a capable first baseman and has shown some power – capable of hitting a HR every 30 or so at bats – 20+ in a season. Has hit at every level and has shown he can play decent corner OF defense – with a great arm. He does not walk a lot – but his K rate has been under 20% each season.

      Bell has hit for average – but since hitting 13 HRs in A ball at age 20 has never had a double digit HR season. His defense in the OF was below average – and by all accounts he is still struggling at 1st base after playing that position for an entire year – and having the support of coaching specialists.

      And now we are told – I think Osuna was told and related the news to the media that he would be playing mostly left field this year – and at AA.

      Maybe I am missing something – but it seems to me that these young men should be COMPETING to be the first baseman of the future in Pittsburgh – and I also thought competition was a good thing – bringing out the best in athletes.

      I can only conclude that this FO does not want the $5M bonus baby to have to deal with the stress of such competition – hell the stress of playing first base well seems to be more than he can handle.

      • Dude, it took Jose Osuna SIX years to get out of A ball! “Hit at every level” loses a bit of it’s luster when it takes beating up on kids younger than him to get there.

        • Yeah, the “hit at every level” thing is less impressive if its takes him 2 years at lower levels to accomplish that feat. 2 years of rookie ball, 2 years at Bradenton. Nothing wrong with him taking that time to develop, but it does bust up this notion of money invested holding him back.

          • Eric Marshall
            February 4, 2016 9:51 am

            Come on guys. He started last year in A+ because Bell was blocking him in AA at 1B. His numbers the previous year warranted a bump to AA but was blocked. Bell has not matured at the plate to be certain a platoon isn’t required, hasn’t developed any power at all and is worse than Pedro at 1B defense. Of the top 10 i am probably least high on Bell… too much smoke too little substance. Yes he hits for average and doesn’t strike out… great attributes but not for a 1B or Outfielder… 2nd or SS great.

            • He was blocked by a guy who was hitting as well as he was. Which is inherently valid. The point im making is he wasnt kept down by some inane notion of money or status, but because he took more time to develop in lower levels than the guy blocking him.

              If Osuna doesnt stink all of 2013, his status is different and he may see a promotion quicker. Bell got the call to AA in 2014, because he was hitting. Bell moved quicker prior to the position change, so its more poor timing for Osuna than bonus baby coddling that he’s behind Bell.

              • Fair enough – This year will be interesting. And I REALLY hope I am wrong about Bell. My main concern was/is they just don’t seem to want to set up a competitive situation and see who performs the best. I don’t get – did not get the Espinal thing – thought it was/is a mistake to force Osuna to the OF to make room for him.

                • One could also see Osuna getting time in the OF as helpful to any future role. He’s surely no great defender, but an ability to passable play it over limited innings does give him more versatility.

                  He should get the bulk of his time at 1B, but him being able to play non awful OF does help him. I dont think Osuna would be blocked from a fair shot at 1B if its 1-2 years from now, he’s showing plus overall offense in Indy, and Bell is closer to replacement level than 1-2 WAR.

            • Thanks Eric – could to have another “thoughtful” commenter – I do think Luke and NMR bring a different – not necessarily wrong – perspective that adds value – but I try to point out some things that I think should be at least considered. I do think the guys in the
              Pirate FO are smarter than I am on most things BB – but they are far from perfect – and not to beat a dead horse – paying Sean Hurdle 2.5M for a year proves my point. And this is not the first time they have done something stupid – Casey McGhee – Corey Hart – Jonathan Sanchez…

            • That’s all fine, except Bell still unquestionably is the better prospect from both a statistic and scouting POV.

              • I don’t know. You take away the bonus and pedigree and i find that hard to believe. Bell hasn’t hit lefties, hasn’t developed power and is below average fielder at 1B and Outfield. Prior to second half and winter i would agree but let’s see how Osuna’s breakout carries over.

                • Bell has *still* outhit Osuna at every level and has far, far superior tools. That has nothing to do with bonuses for either player.

                  • Eric Marshall
                    February 4, 2016 2:54 pm

                    If you want a contact hitter that is good vs. RHP at first base then Bell is great. This is considering he is worse than Alvarez currently at fielding at 1B. How about his fielding tool? How about his power tool? I see him behind Osuna in both categories which typically matter at 1B.

                    • Fielding, absolutely. Game power, maybe by half a grade. But Bell has every bit as much, if not likely more raw power than Osuna.

                      It’s up to the Pirates to get that out of him.

              • Eric Marshall
                February 4, 2016 2:52 pm

                Not a scout so not qualified. Just don’t see it. Bell is a try hard athletic guy. Doesn’t seem as intense as Osuna. Will wait for Bell to put up stats like Osuna did in the winter leagues… which i am concerned he never will.

          • And I respect your opinions Luke and NMR – so who in your OPINION would be a better DEFENSIVE 1st baseman right now – Bell or Osuna? Part 2, who would you trust MORE to play left field for the Pirates for a week or so in an emergency in 2016?

            • I don’t even think you’re completely off, FWIW, just probably need tempered a bit.

              Osuna is most certainly the better defensive first baseman right now, and I’d most certainly trust Bell in left field (offense included in the discussion).

            • Question 1: Osuna.
              Question 2: Id hope on an emergency like that they slide Polanco to LF and have juggle the IF to have Harrison in RF.

              But thats both a strawman and not useful. Both these players have offensive upside, but arent ML ready right now. Since neither are ready right now, its about who is likely to be a more complete player in roughly 1 year.

              Its fair to say you think thats Osuna, but not fair to say the entire reason Bell is ahead of him is due to bonus money. Jose Osuna hurt himself with a crap 2013 that was the reason for Bell getting the promotion. Once he then switched positions, the timing meant Osuna was blocked. Which isnt a bad thing in general, since Osuna has shown the need for slower development at times. It wont be a shock, or the first time, if Osuna gets called up to AAA mid year when Bell gets called up and Osuna struggles early on in adjusting to the level.

              Osuna’s offense has developed slower than Bell overall. Again, not just in power but in overall offensive production. He’s a fine age for his level and has issues to work out before being clearly ready to contribute.

        • Not sure you aren’t making my point for me…
          Why did Osuna stay at high A last year – was it due to his .295 – 800+ ops 10HR year – at age 21 or was it a desire to let Bell have all the reps at 1st base in Altoona. The case could have been made for Osuna going to Altoona last year if there was a desire to keep some competitive pressure on Bell…

          And it is hard to take SIX years to get out of A ball when a guy has only been in the org for FIVE years

          • Eric Marshall
            February 4, 2016 9:53 am

            was making the same point below Bruce. Nicely said. They are trying to find a place for Bell. Same they did for Allie.

          • First, for the facts…Osuna has been in the org since 2010, which is six seasons. That’s just math.

            Now to your question, yes, Osuna starting 2015 back in high A despite a 128 wRC+ in ’14 was most certainly due at least in part to Bell. Except that Bell most certainly earned that distinction given he significantly outhit Osuna with a 153 wRC+ himself. Your “pressure” narrative is silly at that stage of development; consistent at bats are far more important and one of those players wouldn’t have gotten them.

            I don’t at all think it’s out of the question that Osuna at some point plays first base for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and I also don’t think Bell is anywhere close to a high probability star. But Bell is unquestionably the better prospect, and literally nobody that grade such things for any sort of living even considers the opposite being true. It’s up to the pirates to get the most out of Bell’s talent at this point, and that’s questionable IMO, but they’re absolutely making the right call on who to prioritize.

      • Hmmm, Bell is a career .300 hitter, controls the strike zone, doesn’t strike out much and has raw power he hasn’t tapped. Osuna may field first base well, but that’s the only skill he has that is superior to Bell’s.

        Thei ceilings: Bell may become Eddie Murray lite; Osuna may become Kevin Young lite.

  • It would be an interesting dilemma if the below (all possible things) occur:
    – Jaso is hitting well
    – Either Morse or Rogers are doing an adequate job
    – Pirates are in the midst of a pennant race
    It would send a horrible message to Jaso (who is signed for 2017) to sit him in favor of a rookie who will likely go through growing pains. You could bring Bell up as a righty platoon (not his strength) with Jaso, but that is not his strength and would probably set him up for failure. It would seem to stunt Bell to bring him up to pinch hit when he could still be playing/learning in AAA. Do they just wait until September and a call up when the roster expands?

    • Yes I said this earlier be nice to see him in 2017.

      • I would think there is at least a small probability of that. He would have to be struggling in AAA and Jaso would have to be lighting things up

    • The same exact things can be said about the other four rookies expected to get their experience this season.

      After all, if the Pirates are in the thick of a pennant race and Locke, for the sake of argument, is thirteen starts into the season and carrying a mid 3’s ERA…what do you do? Bench him for a guy who’s never thrown a pitch in the majors?

      As has asked many times, can the Pirates commit to legitimately competing and get their young guys the ML reps they need to become viable starting options?

      Interesting question.

      From my perspective…if there’s a balance, I’d be shocked. If the Pirates have to go one way or the other…I’d vote they get the young guys acclimated. They’re going to have to sooner or later, right? Might well do it when they’re ready.

      My fear is they’ll try to do both and that’ll involve shipping out the future for a rental.

      • I highlighted Bell because I think he is in a different situation as at the moment, he can’t field or hit left handers.

        Glasnow/Taillon – if one or both are ready, you bench Vogelsong – and I wouldn’t hesitate on that. If Glasnow struggles bring Taillon up. I don’t think I would bench Niese or Locke if they are pitching well though. And unfortunately there are always injuries (hopefully short term) that can give them experience.

        Hanson – if he’s ready, put him at 2B and move Harrison back to super-ute.

      • Man, you had me hook, line, and sinker up until the second part of that last sentence…

  • We all know who #1 is, but wow, I think even I figured out
    #2 and that is pretty exciting for a young player.

  • Tim/John, What coaches are working with Bell on his defense besides Kevin Young an what is there background /success? I ask due to remembering when the Pirates had Perry Hill andhe was well known well respected for defense. Thanks.

    • The same ones who turned Pedro into a stellar first baseman

      • PiratesFan1975
        February 3, 2016 5:56 pm

        All of MLB is really lining up to sign your man crush Pedro.

        I think in this thread you’ve given Pedro more excuses than Scott Boras.

        You complain about Jaso’s WAR projection yet he provided 0.7 WAR in about 200 plate appearances while Pedro provided 0.2 in almost 500 plate appearances. Two years of Jaso for the cost of one of Pedro. It looks like you’re being a bit irrational.

        • Folks rightfully laughed at the Boras comments, but the Pirates would be ignorant not to at least consider them.

          Everyone acknowledges the Pirates numerous and varied shifting, right? Everyone saw the difficulty Alvarez had making decisions on when to cover and when not, right? I’d love to hear a logical explanation for how those two scenarios aren’t at least somewhat related. Or why they stood Aramis Ramirez about 10′ from the bag like a statue during his short foray on the cold corner.

          • One is that Pedro practiced the move for six months. Neither was exemepler of what should of happened.

            • How would that logic apply to any other activity in the sport?

              Does Searage take in pitchers and tell them to keep doing what they were doing before because it “should” work?

              • I don’t agree the logic is totally regarding Pedro and his defensive aptitude at first. He did not comprehend the position. If you were asked to play first this season for this team you would develop a working skill set for the position no matter the shifting. I believe he should of been able to accomplish the nuisances of the position.

          • PiratesFan1975
            February 3, 2016 6:25 pm

            I didn’t think Pedro played an usual distance from the bag. Ramirez was close but I assumed this was because he had zero range at this point. I guess we’ll see if it was the Pirates fault Pedro can’t play defense based on Jaso’s progress this year. Truthfully I think Pedro was so brain cramped and overwhelmed I don’t think it would have mattered if he was a foot from the bag. He seemed to carry his 3rd base woes over to first. Like he couldn’t shake everything the year before mentally. I always liked Pedro but his lack of production versus his arb salary just wasn’t going to work.

            • ^”The Pirates are an innovative shifting team, except for when that fact doesn’t support my argument.”

              Seriously, how can you even try to claim that Alvarez and Walker were statically positioned in their traditional spots?

              Anyone who has played the position even at the high school level understands the relationship between positioning and coverage. Now take that, and double the speed of play. That’s what Alvarez, and now Bell and Jaso, will have to adjust to on the fly.

              *Of course* the Pirates aren’t totally and completely to blame for every part of the Alvarez failure, but it would be absolute arrogance for them to fail miserably at converting both Alvarez *and* Bell in Year 1 and not adjust anything about how they plan to teach Jaso the position.

          • I only disagree with your inclusion of “rightfully” – I recall several of Pedro’s errors came from him trying to get to balls that an experienced first baseman might have let the second baseman handle – of course when you have second baseman who has zero range who can blame him for at least trying. Putting him closer to first and coaching him to stay close might have cut the errors – might not. I am really curious to see how the Walker-Duda tandem plays out for the Mets – Duda seems to be able to make the plays that are in his range – but has limited range – that will present some problems since Walker has a similar profile – lots of hits sneaking through that side of the infield will not make for a happy pitching staff.

          • peanutbutterguts
            February 3, 2016 8:09 pm

            Per John’s Tweet a couple days ago: Out of his 23 errors, 11 were fielding, 8 were catching and 4 were throwing.

        • Let’s be clear – I wanted Pedro gone at last years trading deadline – I said it here and on the “other” site that the only way the Pirates catch the Cards is to find a real first baseman and dump Pedro – I suggested Scott Van Slyke as a possible solution that would make sense – and yes – he probably would have cost the Pirates Josh Bell and a B pitcher – but he would have been a far better solution than Sean Hurdle, Michael Morse, John Jaso and whomever else they trot out this year.

          Hell I would have traded Melancon this off season for SVS

          • Scott Van Slyke?

            It’s time like this I know there someone less qualified than I to be Pirates GM.

            • Turned in a 2.4 WAR in essentially 40% of a season in 2014 – dropped to 1.2 in essentially the same playing time in 2015. Good – not great defense in Left or 1st base. Bad back might have made it possible to get him without giving up Bell – or Melancon. Tell me how he would not be a bette investment/choice than Sean Hurdle and Jaso and Rogers. And better still he hits right handed and will be earning $1.25M for this year.

        • Let’s see who signs Pedro and for what amount before we conclude that Boras can’t/won’t get him a deal close to what his Arb number would have been and a chance to show he can play either first or third base at a Major League level.

  • Has Bell ever tried batting lefthanded against lefthanders in the minors? With the move to !B that might be asking a bit much, wondering if it has happened in the past.

  • If the data in the link provided by Tim in the comments is accurate, it confirms what several of us have been saying about Bell and his lack of game power.

    Each of the past two seasons, Josh Bell’s ground ball rate has been right at 51%. Last year, 32 qualified MLB hitters averaged more than 50% GB; those hitters averaged a .123 ISO. 70 hitters were within one standard deviation of Bell’s 51% GB rate; those hitters averaged a .142 ISO.

    Simply put, it’s reeeaaalllyyy hard to hit for power when so much of your contact is on the ground. The cause is clear, the solution…well, this will be the first time I’ve ever heard of a leg kick adding more fly balls.

    • I seem to recall a Korean player with a pronounced leg kick who regularly drives the ball in the air.

    • Seriously, though, if a leg kick helps him keep his weight back a little longer, shouldn’t that help provide some loft? Maybe just wishful thinking on my part–I want to believe.

      • I’m sure this doesn’t need said, but I’m no professional hitting coach. I do read a ton about mechanics, though, and I’ve never once seen anyone change swing plane through lower half manipulation. Think Marlon Byrd reviving his career by adding loft to his swing, same general change the Cards made last year to get more power out of Piscotty.

        Josh Bell is a physical monster with good bat speed and fantastic hand eye coordination. Kid hirs the ball plenty hard, but that’s simply not the batted ball distribution of a power hitter.

        • I’m certaintly no scout, but I’ve always thought Bell’s hands were always high in the load position, which seems to give him an upper cutish swing? which maybe results in him getting to the ball late, producing alot of ground balls, and only when he hits it on time, correlates the timing for a line drive? I’d love to see him drop the hands lower in the load position to have a more even swing plane. Just my opinion though. All hitters are different and have different comfort zones and feels so it could be that.

          • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dv2LuC8Pc0c

            And certaintly not to give Jacoby Jones credit or whatever, but they both start off with their hands in the same starting zone, yet Jacoby gets his hands a bit below the shoulders when loading, and Bell’s stay up. Just a thought.

            • Watched further, Meadows is the prototypical swing of how you teach younger ones to hit. No movement in the before stance, hands are low already set and a quick straight swing to the ball. Is this not everything we see in scouting reports of why meadows is way more polished? I’d really like to know what everyone else thinks.

              • Oh and while i’m on this rant, I can’t believe they are using pitching machines for BP. Growing up, I thought pitching machines were the best way to completely screw up a hitters timing, step and load. I mean really, they can’t find some arms to live throw? But, what do I know.

    • He needs to add ” tilt ” to his swing.

  • Tim, what is he’s MLB ETA in your opinion? If Jaso hits they way they think he will vs. RHP and can play the bag decently what is the hurry in bringing Bell up. Of course, Jaso would be a really nice bench option at that point.

    • It should depend on how close the Pirates are to contending as much as anything.

      Let’s not forget, John Jaso has been a ~120 wRC+ hitter against RHP. Unless he significantly regresses, or flat-out sucks at first base, he’s the better baseball player in 2015. We’re getting way, wayyyy ahead of ourselves by expecting Josh Bell to even approach that, let alone perform better.

      • The contending part I’m sure will factor in, as well as his progress. The June 10th cutoff day is just the earliest we could see him, but if his defense hasn’t come around yet and Jaso is doing well, there is no reason to bring Bell up.

        So to answer Nuke’s question, it will be a lot easier to tell in early June when we could see him, but everyone knows it won’t be before that. So we don’t really have a good guess at this point because there are so many other factors. Needless to say, Glasnow, Taillon and Bell will be heavily covered here during the first two months, so his progress will be easy to follow.

        My plans involve watching every start from the big two on milb.tv, plus some other Indy games I’m sure. Ryan will be covering most of their home games and Tim will likely see them during the first two months, probably long enough to make sure he sees both of them at least once

        • My prediction…
          Bell spends the entire year at Indy – and we don’t see him until June/July of 2017.

          Bucs are out of it by the All Star break and decide to keep everyone down on the farm for another year…

          • That would make *absolutely* no sense, whatsoever. Damn near fire-able offense.

            The last thing you’d want to do is miss an opportunity to break in new prospects while out of contention.

            • But what matters in the Pirates version of fantasy baseball is years of control – not winning pennants – just thing how good the 2018 team will be if they keep Glasnow and Tailon and Bell and Hanson at Indy until July of 2017.

              Come to think of it – that really might make sense – the TV deal gets renewed in 2019 if I remember correctly – win something significant in 2018 and have a legit contender for the next 3-5 years and get a great ROOT deal…

              Tread water until then…

              • Let’s summarize- Osuna is better than Bell, Pedro is better than Bell and is not fat, and left because of fans hating him, SRod at 2.5M is a terrible signing, Pirates will tank in 2016 and not bring up Bell, and the Pirates don’t care about winning pennants. Got anything else, Bruce?

                • Not saying Osuna is BETTER than Bell – but that this FI=O has to justify the amount of money they invested in Bell so he gets the clear path to the majors. Osuna is by the reports I have seen – and Pirate Prospects year book is an average fielder at 1st base and in left field – something Bell is not. But yes – paying $2.5M for a guy who should be out of baseball is idiotic – that is my opinion and I am sticking to it.

                  • Anyone who doesn’t think Osuna broke out last year and over the winter isn’t paying attention. His numbers dwarf anything Bell has put on the table if HR’s and Power are considered. Bell is the better prospect because of his pedrigree and cost. If you remove that I would find it hard to believe anyone would prefer Bell over Osuna at 1B. Definitely excited about Bell coming up but Osuna could be a monster.

                    • No, they don’t. You’re *extremely* overrating Osuna at this point.

                    • Eric Marshall
                      February 4, 2016 2:59 pm

                      Ok. I sincerely hope Bell comes up and does well. What was Osuna’s line in Winter ball? Can you compare that to any season in any league Bell has put up? Know that is SS…

                      Personally i just want a decent 1B in pittsburgh. If that is someone hittling 10HR and batting .310 vs. LHP/RHP great. If Bell can’t make it vs. RHP then that would be a fail.

                    • You and me both, and I’m far from convinced Bell is anything more than a league-average player *at peak*, let alone in ’16/’17.

                      I just also don’t think the answer is an inferior prospect, in this case Jose Osuna. I could absolutely see Osuna as a better version of the semi corner-utility role Jason Rogers was apparently acquired to play, and all bets are off if his power continues to blow up while adding some walks.

                      But right now, Bell – while flawed – still shows better tools and production.

              • There is no way they keep Taillon in AAA past mid Summer THIS season, unless there is a physical setback.

              • Now I haven’t read the site rules since I signed up, and don’t know if this is a personal attack or not, but you seem to be the bmcferren of PirateProspects as he is to Bucsdugout. If you don’t get the joke, maybe go over there and check out some of his posts.

                Only your comments don’t give off the same comedic vibe his do, and I’m still not sure if he is serious or not. You seem pretty dead set in your analysis.

          • They have no reason to keep them down another year, especially if they are out of it. Why wouldn’t you get them experience?

          • That’s funny.

    • Steamer has Jaso at 0.7 WAR – any reason to believe they are wrong?

      If that is all we get from him I frankly would rather have kept Pedro and his 30 HRs and hope that the errors dropped with a year under his belt.

      • Thing is….if Pedro did see a remarkable uptick on defense he’d likely get to….just about where Jaso is projected to be. Not good, not god awful. Meaning the offense would then be the separator of the two….and that doesnt favor Pedro since HRs arent enough to make him a 120 wRC+ hitter.

  • Speaking of prospects is there any chance the Pirates are one of the teams interested in lazarito?

    • Zero chance they get him, and I only say zero because there isn’t a lower number. He is subject to the International bonus pool and they are saying he could command $15-20M as a bonus. That means the Pirates would be paying about $14M-19M in taxes on top of that price, plus double for whatever other international players they wanted to sign. Plus they would face penalties in the next two signing periods.

  • Tim/John, et al…does anyone have good publicly available minor league batted ball distributions?

  • Are there any indications that Bell could be at least a league average fielder?

    • I was encouraged by the videos on this site from mini camp. I saw Bell working very hard at the position, doing some technical things well, and just needs to be able to do in game situations without thinking about it. And “league average” is not a real high bar.
      So I’m hopeful he’ll at least be average at some point (probably not this year yet).

      • Good to know. Thanks.

      • What video did you see the one I saw on this sight was not good…still a lot of work to be done.

        • I believe I saw that same video on this site and I, too, did not like what I saw. It was only about 20 sec. of video so I don’t know how much we can get from that but he just didn’t seem comfortable taking those grounders. It’s good to hear he’s a hard worker though. That will go a long ways during the transition.

    • He’s one of the hardest workers there is in the system. His desire to be better could go a long way towards him becoming an average fielder

      • This is the same glowing endorsement NH layed on Pedro. I’m not saying Bell is Pedro, I’m saying sometimes, even hard work isn’t enough.

        • There is a huge difference between the work that Josh Bell puts in and Pedro Alvarez. You should be able to tell by the shape they are in if anything.

          • And that difference resulted in the same amount of errors. Maybe waist line and defense aren’t exactly correlated…

            • I think moving from third base to first base is a little easier than right field to first base. Bell never took a grounder since who knows when, and the throws were a lot different, besides the speed of the game. It’s not comparable. Disagreeing would also mean that you don’t think Alvarez could get any better at first base with more experience, which I don’t agree with either.

              The actual point of it is the amount of work they put in and no one outworks Josh Bell from what I’ve heard. I’ve also never heard that about Alvarez, so there is a big difference between the two and if you asked me right now who has the better chance to become average at first base down the line, I’d say Bell without hesitation.

              I’ll also note that I have answered people who asked in the comments about his defense, that he is worse than Alvarez right now. Maybe not right this second because I stopped tracking Alvarez and his off-season habits and I know what Bell has been doing all winter, but when I watched Bell in the playoffs, he was not as good as Alvarez.

          • Shame on you John – how do you know what shape Pedro is/was in. I actually thought he was a pretty athletic guy and did a lot of good things at third other than throw. I have read elsewhere that he was one of the best baserunners on the team – certainly made fewer mental mistakes then either Marte or Polanco who have much more speed. As I have said before you and I – and nobody really knows what kind of work Pedro put in during the off season – it is time to move on – Pedro hating drove a good young man and the only legitimate power hitter on this team out of town. I have said it here and on the “other” site – power is very rare in baseball today – pitchers really enjoy knowing that the worst that might happen from a mistake is an RBI double – not a three run home run.

            • Pedro hit 131 HRs as a Pirate – unless he does something dramatic it will take Josh Bell at least 10 years to pass that number IMHO.

              • Great…. and do home runs define how well a 1st baseman plays. Bell can hit 10 homers in a season, but if he has gap power and puts up the same or better OPS with his higher average, we won’t be complaining. Good god people, homers aren’t everything.

            • Lets be clear here though, Pedro hate didnt drive him out. Him forgetting how to be valuable drove him out.

              Im nowhere near a Pedro hater or fanboy either way, but it wasnt hate or some false narrative that drove him out. PGH did plenty to try to keep him with this club….but his lack of production was the final straw. Had he remembered how to throw at 3B….or remembered how to catch at 1B, he’d be a Pirate. Gotta bring more than 1 plus skill at 8 million dollars.

              • As opposed to zero skills for $2.5M
                The stupidest signing this off season has to be Sean Hurdle – any value he had last year was as a late inning defensive sub at first base – and the now of eight or nine options – non of them good ahead of him at first base.

                • That would maybe make any sense if Rodriguez was still going to be a 1Bmen.

                  We booted Pedro for John Jaso and keeping Morse. Even with not loving Morse, ill take Morse+Jaso over Pedro. So we have about 3-4 guys ahead of S Rod at 1B, unless you are just fanboying about Pedro. Which is fine.

                  Pedro job was to provide value, and he failed at it two straight years. No one jumps to give 8 million to a guy who has serious issues providing value….and thats proven by no team yet signing Pedro. He’s not worth 8 million, and we found a better option at 4 million over 2 years. Its insulting to every player you mention in the post below to act like they are near what Pedro is. Yeah, Pedro and Killebrew are comparable…..

                  • is anyone really defending the 2.5M S. Rod signing? Pedro sucked but expectations were too high, fans were extremely critical of him, he was weak minded… couldn’t handle the stress and critique and burned out as a result. I expect him to do well in a different environment that isn’t as charged.

                    • Expectations were too high for Pedro? At the start of last year? And we expect him to thrive elsewhere outside of the dreaded PGH media and the stress it brings?

                      Okie Dokie. Good luck finding a less charged environment than PGH was to begin last year, when the team helped him by moving him somewhere he didnt have to throw and the media larger assumed he could handle 1B adequately.

              • Pedro’s job was to scare the crap out of the other team – make a mistake to me and I will make you pay. That is what HR hitters do – and have done for a long time. He is not the first one to couple above average power with an average or slightly below average batting average – go look up Harmon Killebrews career stats – or look at the Brewers of the 80s – Deer – Thomas and Vaughn hit a ton of home runs – but don’t think they ever hit above .260 in any season.

                • SufferinBuccotash
                  February 4, 2016 11:40 am

                  If Pedro is so great, how come he’s still unemployed? I would expect every AL team to be lining up to pay $8 million to sign a DH to “scare the crap out of the other team”.

                • He didn’t scare teams though. Feed him two first pitch strikes on the outside of the plate to get him 0-2 and then throw a hard breaking ball or continue hitting that outside slot and he was shut down. Dude has serious flaws and it’s asinine to try and defend it.

            • I don’t know if this question is serious or not, but just in case, I know what kind of shape both Bell and Alvarez are in because it’s my job to know these things. Sorry if you said that with sarcasm, though I did read it that way, hence the disclaimer

            • I don’t see what being a natural athlete has to do with effort put forth, or shape someone is in.

    • Well if they listen to Scott Boras, all they need to do is move Bell closer to the base and he’ll be fine

      Bell’s athletic and there’s no reason not to expect him to become a decent fielder. We’ve just been traumatized by what we watched last season. (And even with Pedro, I think given a chance he’ll be a decent first baseman. I just don’t think a team will be willing to give him that chance.)

  • Bell may not become a Rose or Beltran, but if he becomes a tough out when hittin RH, I’d be we’ll have a star at 1B.

    • Jose Osuna will be a better MLB first baseman [for some other team unfortunately] than Josh Bell. In Fact if the Pirates had not tied up so much money in Bell, Osuna would be ahead of him on the depth chart right now.

      • I read where Osuna is more comfortable in the out field.

        • You might have read that, but it sure doesn’t look like it when you watch him actually play at those positions. He is MUCH better at 1st base.

          • Agree here and with Bruce’s general message. Osuna should be in AAA and who ever gets it done 1st half should be in Pittsburgh. Bell is a good contact hitter but doesn’t fit the 1B or corner Outfielder profile… where power and slugging play a prominent role. Maybe he develops that power but today and his history… he hasn’t hit at all for power and hasn’t hit lefties. If not for the giant bonus would anyone really be talking about him… sure he works hard but he still sucks at 1B, wasn’t great in the outfield and doesn’t hit for power.

            • I know it’s easy to get excited about prospects, but you really need to put this in perspective.

              Osuna didn’t “break out” until repeating high A for the *third* time as a 22 yo, and his second half performance in AA was worse than Stetson Allie’s his first time through the league.

              It simply takes a lot more than that to all the sudden shoot a kid into the top 50 prospects in all of baseball, which is essentially what you’re calling him.

      • Only if he improves his OPS. And I really like him as a player.