I’ve been getting a lot of content at Pirate City the last two days, with the early arrival players now in camp. Yesterday I did a notes article on what I saw. I don’t have any notes today, since most of what I was doing this morning was getting the final information I needed for featured articles and videos the next two days. I’ve got a video feature on Connor Joe going up on the site shortly, along with an article on Stephen Tarpley and Steven Brault, the two pitchers acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in the Travis Snider trade.
There was one notable thing that happened today, and that was a batting practice group of Josh Bell, JaCoby Jones, and Austin Meadows. The Pirates have been doing a split batting cage the last two years, with two pitching machines throwing to two batters. They had that today, and the result is three minutes of non-stop batting practice from Bell (who hit from both sides), Jones, and Meadows.
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.
We can say all we want about how awkward and unrepeatable his swing looks, but the guy clearly has ability and his swing from both sides of the plate has been effective at times. The second half of last year saw the righty splits spike upward, and the lefty split has always been his more effective side. Sometimes the swing doesn’t match the numbers as we’ve seen with Hunter Pence who doesn’t really do anything aesthetically pleasing on the diamond but is consistently a solid player on offense and defense. Until he completely loses the ability to put bat on ball from a side I think we all need to reserve judgement and allow the guy to make his own adjustments.
Mets fans also said the same thing about Ike Davis when he was destroying the minor leagues, much more successfully than Bell.
Why does Josh Bell keep both hands on the bat all the way through his swing from the right side? It makes the swing look slow and awkward. Just wondering if there is a specific reason or if it is just what feels best to him.
Bell has always had an awkward swing from the right side. I saw him bat righty once during the two series I saw when he was with West Virginia(eight games total) and the righty game wasn’t until the seventh game. I couldn’t believe how bad his swing looked and I had three people come up to me in the press box and comment on how ugly his swing looked. One said awkward, one said he looked like a pitcher and the other comment was just disbelief. I basically thought all three of those things.
I’m not sure I like this personal swing coach situation that Bell apparently still has, at all. Admittedly don’t know the relationship between the organization and Bell/personal coach, but just seems to be a conflict waiting to happen.
Hard enough developing a quality swing and approach from one side of the plate, let alone two. Especially when they’re completely different from one another.
His swing constantly changes, even from the left side. Saw a lot more loft on his swing in the video than in the past. Batting practice for Bell is usually hard hit liners to the gaps
I’ve noticed that as well. You obviously like to see a guy making changes for the positive, especially when you start from a position as bad as Bell, but eventually he’s going to have to find something and stick with it.
I think Bell is just going to have to be a guy that gets by on his natural hit tool more than fundamentals. You certainly won’t try teaching your kid to swing like him, but hopefully it still works out.
It looked like he did for the first few pitches. Maybe he doesn’t swing as far when he’s hitting a certain location or trying to do something in particular with the ball. But it still looks fine to me. I mean, Mike Trout doesn’t take his top hand off the bat, and it works out alright for him I’d say.
I love Meadows’s swing so much.
Very cool, especially since Tim explained the balls on the plate thing.
Tim, have you heard any talk of the organization trying to fix the hitch in Jacoby’s load? Scouts have been calling this out since his draft year at LSU, and it isn’t getting any smoother.
Just my simple opinion. But what Jones was doing there wasn’t so much a hitch as trying to get his hands loaded properly on middle out to away pitches. He was getting the butt of the butt started first, to then drop his top hand and keep the barrel of the bat in the zone longer to barrel up balls to the middle of the field and to right center. And the few he got quick on he rolled them over to SS. Just a thought from what I saw.
Thanks for the thought. Love talking mechanics.
I think at best, it’s wasted movement that he has to recover form in order to get into a good hitting position. At worst, it locks his wrists out making it harder to get barrel to ball. Probably not something I would even think was a big deal, if not for the fact that guys much smarter than me have been pointing it out for years.
Supremely gifted athletes like Jones who consistently under perform usually have some fatal flaw, whether it be mechanical or mental.
Personally, I’m hoping it was just a timing and muscle exercise to get his hands where they need to be on middle out to away. I will wait to see him in live BP video or game highlights to see if it’s still there. Because yes, it is wasted movement compared to a conventional loading mechanism
He’s one of the guys I’m hoping to talk with early in camp. I’ve seen him both days I’ve been over there, and it looks like he might be working on something and going with a specific approach at the plate. Doesn’t look smooth at all.
Thanks, Tim. Great work, as usual.