The Chicago White Sox improved their farm system and possibly the big league club by signing third baseman and former top prospect Josh Bell to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to Spring Training. Let’s take a look at Bell’s numbers and what he has done.
Bell was rated the 37th-best prospect by Baseball America before he was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004. Since then, he has bounced around to a few teams and in 2012, he was with the Baltimore Orioles before being shipped to the Arizona Diamondbacks. In 100 career games at the MLB level, Bell has hit .195. However, his offensive numbers in the minors are a lot better.
In 2012 he saw his most extensive action with the Reno Aces. They are the Triple A affiliate of the Diamondbacks. With the Aces, Bell hit .311 and drove in 75 runs. He also hit 12 home runs and had a .372 on base percentage. In his eight seasons in the minors, Bell has a .283 batting average while driving in 427 runs, blasting 101 home runs recording an on base percentage of .352.
Defensively, his numbers are better at the MLB level than in the minors. In 83 games at third base in the MLB his fielding percentage is .955, he has only recorded eight errors but the minors are a different story. In the 560 games he has played at third base Bell has a .907 fielding percentage and 136 errors.
What does all this mean for the White Sox? There are a couple ways to look at why the White Sox signed Bell. One is that they just bringing Bell in for organization depth probably in the minors. Regardless of how well he plays in Spring Training he really isn’t going to compete for the starting job at third. The White Sox didn’t sign Jeff Keppinger to have him sit on the bench. They more than likely signed him to be the starter at third on opening day.
Second, the White Sox brought in Bell to provide some competition at third base. Carlos Sanchez is a top prospect in the farm system and he’s expected to be the third baseman of the future. Bell was brought in to compete with Sanchez and make him better.
The White Sox might believe they can make Bell better. He is still young at 26, so if the White Sox can help Bell improve and make him into a great third baseman perhaps he will compete with Sanchez to get that starting job in the future. It would be a nice problem to have if the White Sox actually had two good players at third base in the minors competing for a job.
The risk is low for the White Sox with this signing and the reward is high. Nice job again by Rick Hahn to improve the farm system.
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