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Saturday, December 10, 2022

AFL: Josh Bell Continues to Struggle on Offense and Defense in 8-4 Loss

The Arizona Fall League began the last week of action on Monday afternoon. Thomas Harlan was on the mound for Scottsdale, while Josh Bell and Dan Gamache were both in the starting lineup. Adrian Sampson came in to pitch in relief. There was no AFL recap on Saturday because no Pirates players saw action. Scottsdale lost that game 5-1 and lost again on Monday to Salt River by an 8-4 score, dropping them to 11-18 on the season. There are three games left. Tyler Glasnow will pitch Wednesday afternoon and Joely Rodriguez will start the season finale on Thursday.

Thomas Harlan gave up a single and a walk to the first two batters in the first inning, but no damage was done. He got a double play and a two-out grounder to third base to retire the side. Harlan threw 16 pitches in the frame, eight went for strikes.

In the second inning, he retired the first two batters, before giving up a double. Harlan gave up a single that brought home the first run of the game. The runner moved to second on the throw, then scored on a single from the next batter to make it 2-0 Salt River. Harlan got a ground out to end the inning. He needed 22 pitches in the inning, 13 went for strikes. The last two outs in the second inning were both ground balls that Josh Bell took unassisted.

Harlan gave up some hard hit balls in the third, allowing a run on two hits. There were also two line drives hit right at fielders. He picked up his first and only strikeout on the day. His command was better in the third, throwing 12 of 17 pitches for strikes. That ended his day with three runs allowed on six hits and a walk. Harlan finished his season with a 9.64 ERA in six starts. In 14 innings, he gave up 21 hits, eight walks and picked up 11 strikeouts.

Adrian Sampson followed Harlan and battled the first hitter, retiring him on a pop up to second base that took seven pitches. He got the next batter to strikeout swinging, then got a ground out to shortstop to end the inning. He set down the side in order, but still needed 17 pitches and just nine went for strikes. That was the end of his outing. Sampson has a 2.45 ERA in 11 innings.

Bell was batting fifth and playing first base on Monday. He grounded out to second base in the second inning. In the fifth inning, Bell led off with a fly out to center field. He had a chance to get a big hit in the seventh with his team down 4-1 and a runner at second. Bell hit the ball well, but it was a line drive caught in center field. In the ninth inning, he lined out to center again, giving him an 0-for-4 on the day. He is hitting .205 through 20 games, with no homers and a .611 OPS. He made an error on a catch in the third inning, though it didn’t end up hurting the team. Bell handled nine other chances in the field cleanly, three of them unassisted.

Gamache played third base and batted sixth. He came into the game with a .170 average. In the second inning, he singled on a line drive to left field. In the fifth, Gamache doubled, then came around to score Scottsdale’s first run. He came up after Bell in the seventh with a chance to drive in the Scorpions’ second run, but all he could do is move the runner from second up 90 feet with a ground out to second base. In the ninth, he drew a walk, leaving him 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. On defense, Gamache made an error in the eighth that allowed one run to score.

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John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.


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Fair enough – coaches need to assess if this is doing long term damage or just the normal kind of struggle all young players experience.


Bell will be fine defensively at 1B. He is not a gifted defensive outfielder. I am more concerned that he won’t hit well enough to justify his below-average defense whatever position he plays.


Josh probably needs a little time away-off re-charge the baseball juices and then, get back at it! Time will heal the mind/body/soul. As I said, it has to be tough on a 22 year old body.

Sam Pagliari

I think these kids are really tired. It has been a long hard season with no breaks and very unseasonably hot here in the Phoenix area. I got to a game last week and went down and got an autograph from Josh after the game. You could tell he was tired. Lets see what happens next year. I would be sure they will be starting him in Altoona. Bucs need to keep an eye on both him and Glasnow.


It’s got to be tough on a young prospect after spring training games, (142) regular season games, instructs and now fall league (AFL)not an easy league. I’m sure he is feeling it in the mind /body. And then, to add in a position change. Don’t think he is not aware of the “trade” rumors either and has had past injuries-“knee” that has slowed player development-created health concerns. A matter of fact, Josh was sidelined with another knee injury at the end of his Altoona season. He is a real good kid with a lot of high expectations/pressure- (signing bonus), top prospect ratings, etc. I also think he is in an organization with a tremendous amount of young MLB outfielders (log jam) and upcoming young outfield prospects with some better tools-presently.. No disrespect to Josh. Yes, it does take time to develop the craft at 1B- it is a position with totally different situational elements vs outfielder! The Pirates made this an off-season project and they are going to give it a good look- have to now! Wish him the BEST- not going to be an easy task.


So here is a thought – let’s put Josh in RF in Indy to start the season. See how he does and if he gets back on track we have a trade chip that can be used – or we can put him in RF and move Polanco in a trade for 2016. The move to first is not working – and let’s not destroy the value he has – strong arm and adequate defensive guy as a corner OF


Not enough time at the AA level. AA level is a must before AAA/big leagues. AA pitching is real good- better command of their pitches and will work backwards on good hitters. It will make or break a young prospects. Organizations learn a lot about a prospect at the AA level. Josh will start at the AA level- an rightfully so!


Trade Polanco??? No way….


Counterpoint: It’s only been like a month; give the move to 1B some time to work out. Decide in haste, repent at leisure and all that.

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