The Pittsburgh Pirates potentially got a steal when they drafted outfielder Josh Bell in the second round of the 2011 MLB Draft. Prior to the draft, Bell had sent a letter to all 30 teams that he was, in all likelihood, going to be attending the University of Texas. A first-round talent, Bell fell to the Pirates in the second round because his letter caused obvious signability concerns.
Since joining the Pirates’ farm system, Bell has had major injury issues. Due to a torn meniscus in his knee, Bell played in just 15 games in his first professional season in 2012.
2013 was a decent season for Bell; he appeared in 119 games and racked up 519 plate appearances with the West Virginia Power in the South Atlantic League. He hit for a .279/.353/.453 slash line with 13 home runs, 37 doubles and two triples. Bell’s wRC+ of 131 in 2013 was very impressive, but maybe even more impressive was his walk rate. Of his 519 plate appearances, 10.0 percent of them ended in a walk. For a young power hitter, Bell’s 17.3 percent strikeout rate was quite impressive.
At just 21 years old, Bell has plenty of time to work his way through the Pirates’ system. Luckily, his injury history didn’t slow his development as much as it could have. Due to the Pirates having such a deep outfield and several other high-level outfield prospects, it isn’t unrealistic to think that Bell may eventual be forced to move to first base. At first base, Bell would have a clear path to the Majors; in the outfield, he is currently blocked by several players.