#24 Josh Bell
Previous Rank: N/A
How is it that no one in the first round went after this guy? It’s no secret for readers of The Sombrero that we were all in on Bell for whatever the cost. It must have killed the Red Sox and any other team without a budget to see Pittsburgh get this kid signed.
Without a doubt Bell was the premier prep bat in the 2011 draft class, and the assumption was that Bell was unsignable regardless of the size of the bonus. Wrong. The Pirates got it done for $5 million, and as we learned last week what dramatic effects the new CBA will bring to the draft, that number is looking pretty damn tame. Bell likely would be one of the first guys off of the board if not the first in three years, and the slot recommendation for the top pick is around $7.5 million and likely climbing.
Bell is a 60 hitter from both sides with a 60 future power grading. His defense in the outfield is better than people gave him credit for prior to the draft, and it should improve as he matures to the point that he is at least average in left if not a 55. We expect the Pirates to start Bell out in Easy A and to be patient with him, but bats like his are rare. Look for the Bucs to push Bell through as fast as they can to ensure that he reaches PNC before Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen begin to decline and as Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole are reaching their primes.
The Pirates system is not making quite as much noise as Washington’s due in large part to the fact that Bryce Harper is in the latter, but they are just about as stellar at the top and might even be deeper. Bell is without a doubt the top bat in the Pirates organization and could challenge for a top 10 ranking in 2012.