TribLIVE
Blogs | Sports | News
Bucco Blog

« Font size »
Decrease | Reset |Increase

Update: White Sox reportedly land Cuban slugger Jose Abreu … Pirates’ 2013 draft rated No. 1, and Josh Bell ready for breakout?

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

SOUTH HILLS COMMAND CENTER – After watching what Cuban defectors Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes did in their debut seasons I can understand if you caught yourself daydreaming about what Jose Abreu could bring to the lineup as the Pirates’ first baseman.

 

You weren’t alone. Said Neal Huntington in August: “We like him.” The Pirates scouted him for several years and believe he will hit and hit for power. He could be a .270, 30-homer hitter.

 

Abreu is the latest Cuban slugging talent and is the most intriguing and exciting name on an otherwise uninspiring list of free agent basemen.  But it’s time to cross him off the Pirates’ wish list.

 

The Pirates did like Abreu. Huntington said they liked him but added “it will be interesting to see where the bidding goes.”

 

The bidding went north of Cespedes and Puig territory. And that is apparently not a risk the Pirates are willing to take. Huntington declined to comment on Abreu today.

 

With the new television money coming into the game, with the attendance spike and increase in ticket prices for 2014 the Pirates could afford a 6-year, $70 million deal. But the more important question is this: is that a  smart investment?

 

Consider Cespedes signed for $36 million over four years and Puig signed for $42 million over seven years. My sense is the industry is willing to overpay now,  not wanting to miss on the next big Cuban import. There is still a lot of uncertainty in regard to Cuban prospects due to the lack of elite competition they play. Some scouts worried Abreu has slider batspeed. Oakland scouted Cespedes heavily to develop confidence in giving him such a contract. There’s also a cultural transition to consider.

 

But the Davenport statistical translations were very high on Abreu:

 

 

Jose Abreu

Close but no Cuban

 

Still, Abreu is on the cusp of a contract nearly doubling the average annual value of that of Cespedes and Puig. And Abreu is not a five-tool talent, rather he is a bat-only player who might even be a liability at first base judging by all the interest has come from the league with the DH.

 

Maybe the Pirates would have been players at $40-$50 million, but $70 million appeared to price them out of the market. And that might not be a bad thing considering the generally spotty history of Cuban defectors.

 

So now what? First base is a gaping  void with no obvious internal answer.

 

The Pirates are not likely to tender Garrett Jones or resign Justin Morneau. As Tim Williams noted at Pirates Prospects, James Loney could be cheap platoon alternative. Loney has a career .791 OPS vs. RHP. He’s an excellent defender and on team which had a strikeout problem last year, he struck out in just 12 percent of his at bats. Most important he made just $2 million last season. The Pirates did not seem to have much interest in Kendrys Morales at the deadline and Mike Napoli might be too pricey.

 

PIRATES 2013 DRAFT RATED NO. 1 

 

In case you missed it Baseball America has rated the Pirates as having the best draft after early impressions thanks mostly to the encouraging debuts of first-rounders Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire.

 

McGuire was rated as the best defensive propsect in the class by Baseball America, Meadows the third best pure hitter.

 

Baseball Amercia on McGuire: “McGuire stands out behind the plate where his athleticism, tools and high baseball IQ are all evident. He blocks and receives well, and he handles a pitching staff with maturity beyond his years. He has an above-average arm that plays up because of his quick transfer and accuracy. He threw out 16 of 36 basestealers (44 percent). If McGuire can hit he’s a potential All-Star. He impressed league observers with his bat, ranking third in batting average. He has a smooth left-handed swing and good bat speed.”

 

On Meadows: “Showed off a mature hitting approach and the ability to drive the ball with authority …. A patient hitter with a smooth, easy swing. He has swing-and-miss tendencies but it’s not excessive.”

 

JOSH BELL, BREAKOUT?

 

MLB.com’s Jim Callis likes Josh Bell as a breakout candidate in 2014.

 

Bell has rare power for a switch-hitter and was highly regarded in the 2010 draft before injury derailed his 2012 season.

-TS

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments

  1. I have followed the Pirates since 1960 and it is so great to see them on top again. It is also great to know there is someone, finally, with not just great business savvy, but also great judgement when it comes to signing prospects or free agents.

  2. Foo says:

    I knew we weren’t gonna even sniff the Abreu territory. I never got that high on him.

    However, I WOULD like to see either Loney or Lambo at 1b.

    Foo

  3. NMR says:

    Abreu to the White Sox for six years and $68m. I wouldn’t mind the Pirates risking $11m/yr on a first baseman, but the length of that contract is just too risky.
    .
    As for Loney, the Justin Morneau experiment proved the value of a 1B with contact as his only offensive skill. And lets make no mistake, thats just about all Loney can do at the plate.
    .
    Seems a foregone conclusion that Garrett Jones is non-tendered, as he should be. But with the dearth of free agent options, should he be forgotten? He’s gonna play for somebody next year, and he’s probably gonna do it for less than Morneau or Loney. Even if he only bounced back to his 2010/2011 production, he’s likely just as good against RHP as either of those guys.

  4. BostonsCommon says:

    I think Jones is a pretty popular guy in the club house as well. You never know how a guy is going to react when DFAd though. It happened to Karstens, and he was able to swallow his pride and take a smaller deal.
    .
    Maybe Jones won’t be so inclined. Paul Malholm went elsewhere and has done just fine without the Pirates.
    .
    Personally, I wouldn’t be too upset if they brought back the Gaby/Garrett platoon for another season. But for the $10M that platoon is going to cost, the Pirates could probably go get a proper everyday 1B. I mean that’s basically what the White Sox just signed Abreau to, the Buc’s just aren’t tied to that platoon for 6 years.

  5. Leefoo says:

    NMR….yes…the length is too much. If you find out within a couple of years that he is (as Ben Badler opines) a AAAA player, that is too many years to tie up in ‘dead’ money, esp here in Pgh. We just can’t take those types of chances.

    How do you feel about giving Lambo the shot at either 1b or RF (I prefer 1b even tho his minor league experience is not expansive).

    As for Loney, he also brings good defense and a .770-like OPS. That isn’t bad. You can do better, but you can also do a lot worse. Plus, he hits lefties more consistently than either Jones or Morneau.

  6. NMR says:

    Good point in bringing up the personal dynamic involved in such a deal. Jones outwardly appears to be a humble guy, and he’s already shown he didn’t let being taken to arbitration over a measily $250k get to him.
    .
    FWIW, if Jones were to take a one year deal, I couldn’t imagine it being for more than he made this year. Considering Gaby shouldn’t make more than $3m or so, I think that platoon could come in around $6-7m total.

  7. NMR says:

    Loney may hit lefties better than Jones or Morneau, but he’s still a platoon on a decent team, as he started with Tampa last year. Career .669 OPS against them would make the Pirates nuts to give him at-bats over Gaby. That being said, I wouldn’t object to a couple years at $5m per given the quality of other options.
    .
    As for Lambo, I probably differ from most of my blog buddies on this one. I’ve heard it said that giving Lambo a shot as the lefty platoon is “not a move a contender makes” or “something they would’ve done in 2010″. Well, I think that is frankly unrealistic. The Pirates are still the Pirates. Winning hasn’t changed their economic realities. Teams like them will ALWAYS have to take chances on young, cheap prospects.
    .
    What they shouldn’t do is stick with those guys if and when they fail. 2013 Travis Snider is a perfect example of how the Pirates should treat positions of need that don’t have easy fixes. He was given an opportunity, ultimately failed, and yet they still ended up with an above average right fielder for the stretch run and playoffs.
    .
    I think it clearly makes more sense for “winning teams” to audition prospects at the beginning of the season than at the end. Lambo hit 32 homeruns between AA and AAA as a 24 year old. If he is given a chance, it’ll be because he earned it. I think he’ll strike out, but I also think he could hit .250 and put 20 balls in the seats. A poor man’s Brandon Moss, if you will.
    .
    Combined with Gaby, and whatever pitching/rf/ss they are able to get with the money saved, that is plenty worthy of a chance.

  8. Travis Sawchik says:

    I’m not a huge Loney fan. You want an impact bat at 1B and Loney clearly is not that. But he does provide some value at minimal cost … Moving Pedro Alvarez to 1B would be a real possibility if the Pirates had an internal option at 3B, or an attractive 3B free agent in their crosshairs, but neither of those opportunities exist.

  9. BostonsCommon says:

    “Moving Pedro Alvarez to 1B would be a real possibility if the Pirates had an internal option at 3B, or an attractive 3B free agent in their crosshairs, but neither of those opportunities exist.”
    .
    I think Huntington realizes this too. It’s probably why he made a move at Trumbo during the trade deadline. I cant imagine what he would have had to give up to pull it off, probably some combination of Polanco, Taillon, and a few mid level types. More than I would have given up I’m sure.
    .
    1B is a real issue though. In ideal circumstances you don’t want to mess around with quad A players (Lambo), or unproductive platoons when your a contending team on the cusp of making some real noise.
    .
    It would be one thing if the Jones would just pull his weight. In this division, with all the RHP starters, you need the lefty bat to carry the platoon, and that just didn’t happen.

  10. BostonsCommon says:

    “MLB.com’s Jim Callis likes Josh Bell as a breakout candidate in 2014.”
    .
    I’m all over this too. Guy had a monster year in his first full season as a pro, including 37 doubles and 13 HRs. I look for him to do big things in Bradenton, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he makes a push to Altoona and puts himself back on the same path he would have been on pre-injury.
    .
    The biggest thing though, is just another full healthy season of 500+ ABs. Keep racking them up.

  11. Andrew says:

    NMR good point on the Loney splits, in an ideal world you would keep Sanchez with Loney but I am not sure if they sign Loney the Pirates would keep Sanchez. It is hard to predict what Loney will command on free agent market, but if Sanchez gets around 3 million in arbitration, that platoon could become very expensive with Loney coming off a career year.

    However, think you are correct that this is the best observable option, additionally his regressed career wOBA against LHP is .301, below average but not Jones/Alvarez territory.

    Lambo needs to play and be given PAs to see if he can contribute, as far as “not a move a contender makes,” goes I believe this is fallacy. You become an also ran quickly by frittering money away on free agents and trading away prospects. Contributions from cost controlled players is intelligent roster construction. A player who has hit a home run every 14 ABs across two levels needs to given major league ABs.

  12. Jim S. says:

    Travis:

    I have thought of the idea of moving to Pedro to 1b in the past as well. Mainly, I thought of it as a way to get better defense at 3b. Pedro makes some great plays and has a strong arm, but he still makes too many errors. But, the thing he brings to 3b is uniqueness at that position. He has far more power than just about any 3b. At 1b, there are more similar options around baseball. I believe at least part of the Pirates thinking is it would be easier to find an impact bat at 1b than to try to replace Pedro’s bat at 3b.

  13. Jim S. says:

    I’m with you and Jim Callis on this one, Bostons. That 2b/HR ratio will likely be closer to 1:1 next year for Bell. His walks seemed to be very much on the rise as last season wore on. Things just seemed to be clicking for him in just about every way by season’s end. I don’t know how much room there will be for him in RF in Pittsburgh in the next few years, but I could see him as our 1b of the near future – 2 years, 3 at most – away. He is a huge guy, and close to 240 right now, I think. So, he is already built more like a 1b than RF, anyway.

  14. NMR says:

    Great comment, Andrew. Thanks for the reply.

  15. Jim S. says:

    With you on all of this, NMR. Loney/Gaby, IMO, is a platoon that could yield .285/.360 with maybe 17-20 dingers. I could live with that for 2 years @ $5M each for Loney. His defense is strong.

    But, as I have been saying on Dejan’s blog, I also don’t subscribe to the “contenders don’t play unproven players” stuff. Ask the Cards that question next April, when Tavares replaces known commodity Beltran. Contenders play the guy who they think offers the most value. If the Bucs feel Lambo offers more value than Loney, then we get a Gaby/Lambo platoon.

    I think Lambo/Gaby would obviously produce a lower average and OBP than Loney/Gaby. But, it would also add maybe 7 more HR. Loney’s defense would be better, but he would also cost more $$ than Lambo.

  16. BostonsCommon says:

    He’s got no one blocking him in the OF until he gets to Pittsburgh. At that time, Huntington can think about what is in the Bucs best interest, as well as the kid. But those things have a way of working out in the end, before it becomes a problem.
    .
    FWIW, I think he’s going to be more in the mold of Dominic Brown/Jason Heyward than he is Ryan Howard.

  17. NMR says:

    Ha, so true on the “contending teams” comment. Hell, they just threw Pete Friggin’ Kozma into the most important position on the field for the whole year.
    .
    I suppose it really comes down to WHERE they want to spend their money.

  18. NMR says:

    Btw, wish some of the guys on DK’s blog would come over here. These guys are awesome.

  19. NMR says:

    Kind’ve surprised to hear that prediction for Bell. I certainly don’t wanna sound like I think I’m superiorly qualified to evaluate these things, but man, he’s got one ugly swing. I didn’t see any video after June, so he might’ve made some big adjustments, but to my eye his swing has actually gotten longer and slower since high school. Huge leg kick and lots of bat movement pre-contact. Also very stiff. Scouts seemed to be down on him because of it this summer as well.
    .
    I guess the bright side is that he still produced in spite of these deficiencies, which would tell me he has a natural knack for hitting. Still seems like a project, but certainly a worthy one.

  20. BostonsCommon says:

    ” A player who has hit a home run every 14 ABs across two levels needs to given major league ABs.”
    .
    I would make a small sample size argument, but I’m inclined to agree with you. Just because I don’t think he is the answer, doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be given an opportunity.

  21. Jim S. says:

    I wish $250k were measly to me as well. Haha!

  22. Jim S. says:

    Agreed. I like it here. It still has that “shiny and new” quality about it.

  23. BostonsCommon says:

    I’ve seen some of the tape, and read some of the scouting reports that you’re speaking of. And I get it.
    .
    I think Bell will be more willing to address his mechanics if/when he faces a little adversity and struggles as he makes his way to the higher levels.
    .
    I think I remember Cutch saying as much about his personal development. That he never had a reason to change anything until he made his way to the upper levels, because he had never struggled with anything or against anyone.

  24. Jim S. says:

    But, IMO, with maybe a higher OBP than Brown. Isn’t Brown allergic to walks? I also think Bell is ahead of Brown, age-wise. Bell lost a whole year to the injury and is still only 20, I think.

    Heyward is a great comparison. I’d take that.

  25. NMR says:

    Haha, and we’re not all comfortable enough to rip each others faces off when we disagree!

  26. Jim S. says:

    I wonder if he has already worked out some of the mechanics issues – at least from the left side. He seemed to tear it up as the summer wore on. They are focusing on RH swing as his biggest perceived issue.

  27. Jim S. says:

    Nope, not a chance at that price. Too much risk.

    That is actually way too much risk for the CHISox as well. They already have to pay Dunn. But, I think they see the Cubs building something and this is the move desperate teams make.

  28. BostonsCommon says:

    I think Brown is just young more than anything. This was his first full season and Philly. Like a lot of players, I think his plate discipline will improve with more experience.
    .
    The comps. were more in terms of fielding and athletic ability. Despite being big guys, Heyward and Brown are still more than capable of playing in the OF.
    .
    If you put Howard out there, he would look like Matt Holiday.

  29. NMR says:

    Brown is 26, fwiw. Seemed to bounce between AAA and the big leagues forever. But, Phillies, so yeah.
    .
    Heyward is an athletic freak. I sure hope Bell can come close to that.

  30. NMR says:

    Great point. Hard to reinforce the swing changes when you can flick your wrists and put the ball over the fence against poor pitching.

  31. Jim S. says:

    My description of Holliday in LF is that he looks like he is juggling chainsaws while running more than 20 feet after a flyball. Brutal!

    This is another tangent, but it just shows how great that Cardinals pitching staff is that they can throw 3 butchers in the OF and still have a very good chance of winning the WS. I know the corner guys are great hitters, too, but their awful defense was on full display in LA the other night.

  32. NMR says:

    Speaking of Dunn…not much need for a DH in his walk year unless they plan on contending in 2014, which seems unlikely considering they just traded Rios, Peavy, and Thornton.

  33. BostonsCommon says:

    My point about his athletic ability is that you don’t have to just plop him at 1B because he can’t play anywhere else. I think that’s part of the reason Pedro will stay @ 3B as long as possible. Why do you want to waste the biggest arm on the team at 1B? Tossing the ball back to the pitcher after checking the runner at first is not taking advantage of the available tools.
    .
    Bell has all the tools to stay in the OF. There’s no reason to move him to 1B anytime soon. Assuming Polanco sticks in Pittsburgh next year, the biggest prospect blocking Bell is going to be Willie Garcia.

  34. Brendan says:

    Re: Dominic Brown and BB’s

    That was my perception too but his K% & BB% actually weren’t bad this year in total, which surprised me. His K % was 18.0% and his BB% was 7.2%.

    In May, circa his power surge, he struck out twenty-one times with no walks but otherwise his numbers were pretty reasonable.

  35. Brendan says:

    His plate discipline certainly improved notably over the course of the year.

  36. Skip says:

    After reading your post about Bell’s swing, I decided to look for some video online. Wow, what a mess his swing is. His front shoulder flies open and then his bat just drags through the zone.

    But it can be fixed – it’s obvious that he has a lot of natural ability. Hopefully he has the mental make-up needed to make the necessary adjustments. In other words, I hope he’s coachable.

  37. Andrew says:

    I could come up with a weak meandering response to the SSS argument, but my main point is that given the age and statistics Lambo needs to be given a chance, is he the answer, I am pessimistic. I just believe you need to utilize your internal options.

  38. steelkings says:

    Josh Bell will be dealt sometime next year in a trade that brings a veteran to Pittsburgh. Perhaps in a deal over the winter. At least I hope so. Heres why.

    1. He’s blocked. McCutchen, Marte, Tabata, Lambo, Polanco, all will be ahead of him until he is a free agent in 2017.

    2. He’s a right handed hitter with a bad swing in a ball park where its 4 miles to the bleachers in Left. If the Buc’s add an outfielder it needs to be a lefty.

    3. His agent is Scott Boras…..Nuff Said!

    4. He doesnt run very well. That does not fit our Future needs.

  39. leefoo says:

    I heard his swing is worse from the Right side.

    Maybe he should just hit LH?

    Foo

  40. BostonsCommon says:

    The Pirates dropped $5M on Bell just to keep him from going to Texas. They’re not just going to flush that investment down the toilet. For the sake of this argument, let’s assume Bell is ready to reasonably start contributing in 2016.
    .
    1.Cutch is a CF, so he’s not blocking him. Tabata is a 4th OF for the Pirates so he’s not blocking him. If we are assuming Polanco and Marte in the corners, then Lambos future is likely at 1B. And that’s only if he’s still in the majors in 3 years, so he’s not blocking Bell either. So in this scenario, Bell gets called up in 2016 as a 24 year old 4th OF who is hopefully contributing to a playoff contender. Worst comes to worst, we’ve already talked about moving him to 1B, even though that would be my last resort to get his bat in the lineup.
    .
    If he is really, truely being blocked at that point, and it’s obvious that he is ready, I can easily see the Pirates trading Cutch before 2017, when he still has 1 year plus the option year tied to his contr act. Clears $14M from the books, move Polanco to CF, and now you have a spot for Bell. In the unlikely scenario that he’s knocking on the door in 2015, maybe Cutch is moved with two years left on his contract to make room, but I honestly see that happening after 2016.
    .
    2. He’s a switch hitter, who is actually stronger from the left side, so that’s a weak argument.
    .
    3. What does Boras have to do with anything? The only time he will have any impact is in about 2021, if the Pirates are thinking about extending Bell and trying to buy out a FA year.
    .
    4. Who says he doesn’t run well? I haven’t heard that from anyone, even once… I’ve heard the exact opposite in fact. That he runs incredibly well given his size and frame. But even if that was somehow true, there is still a glaring hole at 1B. It wouldn’t be my preference, but in this make believe world where Bell doesn’t run well, the Pirates can move him To 1b.

  41. Brendan says:

    Simply for the sake of discussion. Here’s my current Pirates Prospects Top Ten:

    1. Jameson Taillon
    2. Gregory Polanco
    3. Tyler Glasnow
    3. Austin Meadows
    5. Nick Kingham
    6. Alen Hanson
    7. Reese McGuire
    8. Josh Bell
    9. Harold Ramirez
    10. Luis Heredia

    Others First Tier: Stetson Allie, Barret Barnes, Brandon Cumpton, Alex Dickerson, Phil Irwin, Jin-De Jhang, JaCoby Jones, Andrew Lambo, Wyatt Mathisen, Stolmy Pimentel, Blake Taylor, Zack Thornton

    Othere Second Tier: Ryan Beckman, Buddy Borden, Shane Carle, Jason Creasy, Cody Dickson, Michael De La Cruz, Elvis Escobar, Edwin Espinal, Zac Fuesser, Adam Frazier, Willy Garcia, Clay Holmes, Neil Kozikowski, Chad Kuhl, Max Moroff, Gift Ngoepe, Jose Osuna, Joely Rodriguez, Mel Rojas, Billy Roth, Adrian Sampson

  42. Brendan says:

    – No player in A ball is blocked. I’d guess Bell wouldn’t reach the majors until 2016. Who knows what the roster composition will be at that point, or even in late 2015 for that matter.

    – As is mentioned above he wouldn’t be a free agent until 2021 or 2022.

    – He’s not a right handed hitter. As a switch hitter, he’d predominately bat left handed.

    – I don’t see why the Pirates would consider trading him period when his value is down unless their internal evaluation is that it will continue to trend in that direction.

  43. Brendan says:

    On Josh Bell

    I was surprised Bell wasn’t ranked among Baseball America’s Top 20 South Atlantic League Prospects a few weeks ago. Here’s an explanation of his ranking in the associated chat:

    Q: “Wait a minute here. Josh Bell hits .279, plays nearly every game, 20 years old, 52 extra base hits, only 90 k’s, an .806 ops, 37 doubles ( a predictor of future power, yes?) and he can’t make the top 20? ’Splain this please.”

    J.J. Cooper: “He was in that 21-30 group. Guys liked him as a potential .260-.270 hitter with 20 home runs as a big leaguer. Some scouts questions his righthanded swing and others liked center fielder Barrett Barnes better because they thought Barnes had better plate discipline and more tools, but then Barnes needs to stay healthy, something he’s struggled with.”

  44. ghostofclemete says:

    Brendan, how many of your top ten have you actually seen play……I guess that goes for your first tier and second tier, you are so funny

  45. BostonsCommon says:

    Just a quick side note on Taillon, who I agree is the top prospect in the system. I think the Pirates need to be given some real props for their ability to develop Taillon, bring him along, and keep him healthy. Especially given the poor track record the previous regimes were known for with regard to pitcher development and injuries.
    .
    Personally, I think it’s almost remarkable that he’s been able to move from level to level, continue to perform well, AND hold his value as a top 15 prospect, and one of the top 3-5 RHP prospects over 4 years. Prep pitchers are always the biggest risk, because they are sooo far away and so much could happen in the 4-5 years before they get to the bigs, if they even make it at all. I’m really excited to see him in Pittsburgh next June. With him and Cole it’s going to be a fun ride for the next 6 years.

  46. BostonsCommon says:

    Here is hoping Heredia comes to camp in shape and can really take a step forward this year. He pitched almost all of 2013 as an 18 year old, but was only able to make 13 starts, and didn’t increase his innings from the previous year.
    .
    Obviously he’s still age appropriate for West Virginia, but I wonder if they plan to send him to Bradenton, or hold him in extended Spring Training, and then send him back to WV? Either way, he should make it to Bradenton by the end of the season and won’t turn 20 until August. Maybe he breaks out this year, like Glasnow did last year as a 19 year old.

  47. Brendan says:

    Unlike ten years ago when you could only read about this guys via a capsule review in the morning paper there’s a ton of information available–if you’re interested in scouting and player development–video, milb.com, scouting reports, you name it.

    So have I have indeed seen many of these guys in extended game action, everyone in the top ten with the exception of Harold Ramirez, of who I’ve only been able to watch scouting video of.

    In any case the purpose of throwing those names out there is just to generate discussion about the Pirates prospects–as it’s the offseason. If you’re not interested in that discussion, that’s of course totally fine.

  48. Brendan says:

    Cole’s success, despite lacking the sort of eye-popping minor league numbers one might think would result from his stuff, gives me a little bit more confidence that Taillon might be on the same track. Who knows, we’ll have to see though.

  49. Brendan says:

    You’re right that Heredia is still quite young, which is always easy to forget as he’s been in the system for a few years, certainly something that should be taken into account.

  50. steelkings says:

    Once the dust settled at the end of the draft, Bell figured to be the main determining factor in whether the Pirates’ 2011 draft was regarded as a success. With the team struggling on offense in the majors, Bell fills a “need” as a strong hitting prospect in a system that is thin on hitting prospects and nearly devoid of power. He was widely regarded as the best prep hitter in the 2011 draft, a switch hitter who projects to have plus power, as well as plus hitting skills, from both sides of the plate. Defensively he profiles as a corner outfielder and he does not run well.

    Bell was expected to be extraordinarily difficult to sign. Baseball America rated him the 15th best prospect and 5th best hitter in the draft, but he fell to the second round after sending a letter to all teams urging them not to draft him because he intended to honor his commitment to the University of Texas. Bell comes from a family that is both well off and well educated, and his mother was known to want him to go to college. There was considerable speculation that he wouldn’t sign at any price, but the Pirates succeeded in signing him for a $5M bonus, nearly double the previous record for a post-first-round pick.

  51. steelkings says:

    That last piece was from Pirates Prospects.

  52. Brendan says:

    That was from prior to the 2012 season, right?

    I was going to mention above that I’m not sure the Heyward comparison is apt as he’s plus defender as corner outfielder and has pretty good speed for some his size (6’5), he stole 20 bases last year–although only 2 in 2013.

    It seems like most if not all of Bell’s value has always come from his hit tool and power potential. He’s not a toolsy outfielder in the mold of recent top hitting prospects–Cutch, Marte, Grossman, Polanco, etc. So he’s really going to have hit to make an impact at the ML level.

    But again if you’re the Pirates, I don’t think you consider trading him when his value is down unless you think he’s only going to lose value going forward.

    Who know’s how the roster shakes out. But even if Bell is tearing it up at AAA at some point in the future and there’s no room for him the OF he could always play first.

  53. Travis Sawchik says:

    Jim,

    I think the club would prefer to see his defense improve and leave him at 3B. Pedro should be motivated to stay there, too. A player has more value if he can stick on the left side of the infield.

    There’s not likely to be a position switch in 2014 — there are few attractive alternatives in the system or free agent market — but it could be in store down the road if his defense regresses.

  54. Travis Sawchik says:

    I like your list Brendan.

    One guy I’m higher on than most is Reese McGuire.

    I think the kid is going to hit, he exceeded initial offensive expectations, and his defensive game is highly advanced.

    I don’t know what his pitch framing abilities are, but I assume they are advanced.

    There are few more valuable assets than a catcher who brings offense and defense to the lineup every day.

  55. Travis Sawchik says:

    I agree it’s too early to think about moving Bell, particularly when his stock is relatively low.

    There are few switch-hitters with his raw power, it’s a rare skillset.

    Moreover, this was a two-sport star who I don’t believe had ever been fully committed to baseball until he reached college. There’s probably a degree of rawness he’s working through, which means he has more remaining upside in his projection than many A-ball players

  56. Brendan says:

    I think there’s a pretty good case to be made for McGuire being ranked higher–maybe 5th? I was sort of just spitballing. I’d guess that when lists come out these will generally be the consensus top ten prospects but the order will varying depending how much upside is valued vs. proximity to the majors, etc.

    Don’t recall reading anything about his pitch framing recently. But I believe pre-draft I did come across several reports that said he had all the tools to become an excellent pitch framer.

  57. Travis Sawchik says:

    I’m an upside guy. I think McGuire has more upside than Kingham and even Meadows. But they’re all fine prospects. Very deep top 10

  58. Brendan says:

    I tend to be as well, generally speaking. Would something comparable to Salvador Perez be what you imagine McGuire’s upside might be?

    I think as a group this might be the Pirates strongest and deepest top ten under current management.

  59. Travis Sawchik says:

    Yes, something like Perez, which would be an under-appreciated force

  60. Brendan says:

    Yeah, I’d be quite excited to have the roughly the equivalent of Perez manning catcher for the Pirates a few years down the road.

 
Other blogs
Sports: Rob Rossi | Steel Mill | Chipped Ice | Bucco Blog | Sitting Ringside | Pitt Locker Room | Penn State Sports | H.S. Sports Insiders | Trailing Off
News: This Just In | Trib List  


» Top TribLIVE.com Sports
» Top TribLIVE.com News
» Top TribLIVE.com Breaking News