Josh Bell is the Pirates Prospects 2016 Minor League Player of the Year

For the third year in a row, Josh Bell has been named the Pirates Prospects Minor League Player of the Year. Fortunately for other players in the system, this will be the final year Bell will win the award. Actually, it would be a massive disappointment if Bell were in position at this point to win the award in a future year, since the 2016 season saw him make the jump to the majors, where he is putting up an .880 OPS in 109 plate appearances.

Prior to making the jump to the majors, Bell posted an .850 OPS with Indianapolis in 484 plate appearances, along with 14 homers and 23 doubles. The big question heading into the year was whether Bell could add power to his game. Last year, he combined for an .838 OPS between Altoona and Indianapolis, but a lot of that was due to a big boost at the end of the season, where he had a .347/.441/.504 line in his jump to Triple-A. He had just a .120 ISO in Altoona, so the question was whether the new leg kick and the added power at the end of the year would stick around.

I wrote about this prior to the season in great detail, pointing out Bell’s swing was looking smoother from both sides, and this looked like the year power would finally be added to his game. He hasn’t seen his full power potential just yet, but saw an increase this year, putting up a .173 ISO in Triple-A. One other issue in the past was his performance against left-handed pitching, which he solved this year with a smoother swing from the right side, hitting for a .790 OPS, and actually showing some power with a .150 ISO.

Bell solved these issues, winning out Player of the Month award in April, and winning our award for the Indianapolis Player of the Month in April, May, and June. He was called up to the majors for a brief amount of time in July, going 2-for-2 with a grand slam and two walks in his four plate appearances. He slumped a bit after returning to the minors, but eventually returned to the majors, where he has put up an .811 OPS in 105 plate appearances over the last month. We only considered his minor league stats for this award.

Bell’s performance edged out a few other strong contenders. Kevin Newman combined for an .814 OPS between Bradenton and Altoona, with his numbers in Altoona dragging him down. Bell got the edge here because he was only a year older, and had his best results two levels higher. Barrett Barnes had a great year in Altoona, winning our overall monthly award twice this year, but is a year older than Bell, at a level younger, with similar results. Austin Meadows might have been the only guy who would have beat Bell, with an .869 OPS and 12 homers in 352 plate appearances. However, his injuries in 2016 cut his playing time short, and hurt his chances.

Below you will find our Minor League Players of the Year for each level in the farm system, our previous overall award winners, and the 2016 monthly awards.

Previous Pirates Prospects Minor League Players of the Year

2015 – Josh Bell

2014 – Josh Bell

2013 – Andrew Lambo

2012 – Gregory Polanco

2011 – Starling Marte

2016 Pirates Prospects Minor League Players of the Year By Level

Indianapolis – Josh Bell, 1B (.295/.382/.468, 14 HR, 484 PA)

Altoona – Barrett Barnes, OF (.306/.377/.477, 9 HR, 458 PA)

Bradenton – Jordan Luplow, OF (.254/.363/.421, 10 HR, 425 PA)

West Virginia – Tito Polo, OF (.302/.368/.551, 12 HR, 225 PA)

Morgantown – Will Craig, 3B (.280/.412/.362, 2 HR, 274 PA)

Bristol – Victor Fernandez, OF (.314/.382/.450, 2 HR, 196 PA)

GCL Pirates – Henrry Rosario, OF (.313/.395/.537, 8 HR, 238 PA)

2016 Pirates Prospects Player of the Month Awards


Overall – Josh Bell

Indianapolis – Josh Bell

Altoona – Erich Weiss

Bradenton – Kevin Newman

West Virginia – Tito Polo


Overall – Tito Polo

Indianapolis – Josh Bell

Altoona – Harold Ramirez

Bradenton – Michael Suchy

West Virginia – Tito Polo


Overall – Austin Meadows

Indianapolis – Josh Bell

Altoona – Austin Meadows

Bradenton – Jordan Luplow

West Virginia – Mitchell Tolman


Overall – Barrett Barnes

Indianapolis – Jose Osuna

Altoona – Barrett Barnes

Bradenton – Elvis Escobar

West Virginia – Logan Hill

Morgantown – Will Craig

Bristol – Huascar Fuentes

GCL Pirates – Henrry Rosario


Overall – Barrett Barnes

Indianapolis – Alen Hanson

Altoona – Barrett Barnes

Bradenton – Pablo Reyes

West Virginia – Jordan George

Morgantown – Albert Baur

Bristol – Raul Siri

GCL Pirates – Luis Benitez