Josh Bell was once considered one of the top prospects in baseball, but since a few failed stints in the Majors he has fallen completely off fantasy owners. Now back with the Diamondbacks, could he finally live up to the potential? Let’s take a look at everything we need to know to reach a conclusion:
- 25-years old
- Switch hitter
- Drafted in the fourth round (136 overall) in 2005 by the Los Angeles Dodgers
- Acquired by Orioles in 2009 in the George Sherrill trade; the Orioles then traded him to Arizona in April for a player to be named later (left-handed Mike Belfiore)
- Made his Major League debut in 2010, going 1-4 on July 1
- On August 21, 2010 hit his first career home run in what was his career day, going 3-4 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 3 R
- Since trade to Arizona Bell was hitting .381 with 4 HR and 30 RBI in 97 AB at Triple-A (Pacific Coast League), though it came courtesy of a .413 BABIP
- Has always shown power in the minor leagues, including 37 HR in 840 AB at Triple-A
- Once considered among the top prospects in the game; prior to the 2010 season Baseball America ranked him as the Orioles #2 prospect (behind Brian Matusz)
- At that time they said, “In a system lacking in impact bats, Bell fills a huge need. He has above-average power and a good approach, showing the ability to work counts to get on base.”
- His ability to work the count has not been good in the upper levels, as strikeouts have plagued him (34.9% strikeout rate in the Major Leagues, 23.8% at Triple-A); unless he can improve in this department the average is going to suffer
- Does not bring any speed to the table, with 29 SB in 2,417 minor league AB
- Appears primed to be the Diamondbacks starting 3B, moving Ryan Roberts into a utility role; Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic (click here for the article) has a quote from Kirk Gibson saying, “(Bell) will get a lot of playing time, yes,” Gibson. “We’ll see how he adjusts.”
Bell was once considered the Orioles third baseman of the future, but unless he can make consistent contact against Major League pitching his value is going to be minimal. I know there have been a lot of injuries to third baseman, but I’m just not sure that Bell has the potential to bring enough to the table or that he’s going to be the long-term answer for the Diamondbacks at third.
Would it really be a surprise to see the team go back to Ryan Roberts in two weeks? How about them going out and acquiring a better option (let the Kevin Youkilis rumors begin)?
If you are considering Bell, figure that he’ll be a .250-.260 hitter with 10-15 HR pop at best. As a short-term fill-in, it’s possible that you catch lightning in a bottle as you wait for your starter to come back from injury. However, in shallower formats there should be a better option available to you as the risk is greater then the potential reward.
That said, given his past success and hype, I would definitely keep a close eye on him. It’s not impossible that he’s finally figured it out, though I do have my doubts.