Josh Bell Moving to First Base in the Arizona Fall League

Pittsburgh Pirates outfield prospect Josh Bell will be moving to first base during the Arizona Fall League this off-season, according to Rob Biertempfel and Tom Singer. Bell was one of several top prospects named to the team earlier today. The move is somewhat expected, since Bell doesn’t really have a future in a¬†Pirates’ outfield that includes Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco.

Bell moved up to Altoona this year, but will miss the end of the season with a left knee bruise. He should return to Altoona to start the 2015 season, and likely will be playing first base if all goes well this off-season. Bell could be in the majors by mid-season if he hits well enough. The Pirates have a lot of options at first base, but no real long-term solutions. Bell looks to be the best bet in the system for a long-term answer at the position. He has the upside of a .300 hitter who can hit 25-30 homers per year.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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Does the fact that Stetson Allie didn’t make the AFL roster mean that the Pirates don’t think he has an MLB future?

Bryan Graham

I love this sentence in the article “The Pirates have a lot of options at first base, but no real long-term solutions.” It’s just a shame that none of those options look to be worth a hill of beans at this point.

R Edwards

Not a surprising decision…..just surprised that waited this long to make the change.


I think this means the Davis and Gaby platoon gets one more year and Bell will be the guy in ’16


I doubt Davis is back. I could see a case where where neither are back.


Next year the 1B platoon will be Pedro Alvarez and Tony sanchez.


Don’t know that he is a Pirate for the long term, but Pedro played very well at 1st in last night’s game vs the Cards.

Spa City

Who is the last (legitimate) All Star first base man developed in the Pirates system? I don’t mean Willie Stargell, who was an outfielder who played 1B toward the end of his career. Who was the last memorably good 1Bman developed by the Bucs?

Josh Bell is clearly a quality hitting prospect, and just as clearly he is not a talented defensive player. It makes perfect sense to get him started on his career as a 1Bman.


And from both sides too.


Last 1B they developed was Kevin Young. 28.5 mil career paid out for a career 5.8 WAR…ad that was 15 years ago money. One of the worst contracts the Bucs have done.


Yep, three good years from 1997-99 (9.7 WAR) followed by four awful years at approximately $6M per awful season.


This is outstanding news! Here is our future long term first baseman!


I’m kinda disappointed that they aren’t trying him at 3rd. I saw someone mention that he regularly takes ground balls at 3rd and if there’s position thinner than 1st, that’s it. Does this mean that we can expect the FO to offer Harrison a contract?


Unless I am mistaken Harrison is still under control for 4 more years.


I believe he has 3 arb years after 2014, but i’ve heard that PIT probably can only afford him for 2 of those unless he takes someone else’s spot as a “core” player (that assumes he continues playing out of his skull). So do you try to sign him early or ride him hoping to sell high?


I’m not sure the Pirates have a core group of players. I’d start defining their core as Cole, Cutch and Marte. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the other 21 were gone by 2017. A good 2015 and I could see Harrison and Mercer joining them. Not convinced the Pirates are resigning Walker, Alvarez or Martin so I am not including them as part of their core.


I don’t even know if you can count Cole there yet if your measure is financial commitment. He will almost definitely price himself out of Pittsburgh before he even finishes his arbitration years. I could be wrong there, but I don’t think so.


No need to do anything with Harrison after this year. Given that he did almost nothing before this year, his arbitration award (in the unlikely event that he and the Bucs don’t agree on a number) will not be real high. Then if he has another great season, there may be more of a decision – although his play could make the decision easy.


Yeah, that’s a tough call. Considering we don’t have anyone to play 3rd, I would ride with Harrison going into next season.


I gotta clarify that I’m actually thrilled to Bell move to a position that can get his bat in the majors. If first is it, then great. And I really like Harrison. I want him to stick at third. I shouldn’t be disappointed that Bell won’t get to try out his 3B glove. It was just the first thought I had. Bell, Walker, Mercer, Harrison could be real interesting. Does Alvarez, Davis or both get shopped this offseason???


I think they might try to trade Pedro or go with him for 2015 and then trade him. I think Davis and Sanchez get non tenured.


Or possibly traded in the next few days.

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