Josh Bell is the Pirates Prospects Player of the Month for August

Josh Bell was promoted to Indianapolis at the start of August, giving him some experience in Triple-A down the stretch before the end of the 2015 season. The move to the new level saw immediate results for the Pirates’ future first baseman, as he hit for a .347/.441/.504 line in 121 plate appearances down the stretch. That was good enough to be our Player of the Month for August, which included stats from the first week of September.

Bell was successful in Altoona this year, hitting for a .307/.376/.427 line in 368 at-bats. There was just one problem, and that was the lack of power he was showing. He displayed a lot of raw power in batting practice, but that didn’t always show up in the game. His .120 ISO in Altoona wasn’t what you’d expect from a future first baseman. However, in his jump to Indianapolis he saw a boost in power, with an increase to a .157 ISO. That’s still not great, but it’s encouraging that he’s showing improvements.

Ryan Palencer wrote about a big reason for his improvements in the power department. He had been working on his batting stance in Altoona throughout the year, focused on adding a leg kick to generate some more power. He made an adjustment to that kick in Triple-A, which was a compromise as Bell was uncomfortable with the kick, but the Pirates wanted him to keep it. They ended up settling on something more comfortable for him, and the results have been great ever since.

Bell is currently projected to be the first baseman of the future in Pittsburgh, and could be up by mid-season 2016. He wrapped up a solid year with his late season run in Indianapolis, and if he carries that over to next year, the mid-season promotion will almost certainly happen. He was the third Indianapolis player to win our Player of the Month award this year, joining Deibinson Romero (April) and Alen Hanson (May). Bell was the Altoona Player of the Month during both of those months, falling just short of the overall honors.

PLAYERS OF THE MONTH BY LEVEL

Indianapolis – Josh Bell, 1B (.347/.441/.504, 145 PA, 2 HR)

Altoona – Mel Rojas Jr., OF (.279/.380/.407, 103 PA, 1 HR)

Bradenton – Wyatt Mathisen, 3B (.252/.380/.417, 130 PA, 3 HR)

West Virginia – Pablo Reyes, 2B (.343/.461/.586, 97 PA, 3 HR)

Morgantown – Mitchell Tolman, 3B (.348/.408/.464, 162 PA, 0 HR)

Bristol – Nick Buckner, OF (.345/.382/.429, 90 PA, 0 HR)

GCL – Edison Lantigua, OF (.246/.324/.393, 68 PA, 1 HR)

  • Maybe let Bell work with Kang in the off season on the leg kick. Seems to be working pretty good for Kang!

  • Holy [base]balls, Pablo Reyes. What a month!

  • What’s been Mathisen’s issues? I know he was hurt one year. I guess that class has been pretty disappointing?

    • “The issue is that he simply doesn’t square up the ball often enough, and currently not as often as his tools suggest he should. Whether it is a neurological problem with putting the barrel on the ball consistently or a failure to execute his plan at the plate successfully, Mathisen just doesn’t seem to hit the ball hard as often as he should, and when he does, he doesn’t drive it with authority.”

      http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=27355

    • As for being disappointed in the draft class, I’d hold off on that right now.

      For failing to sign the two most talented picks they took (Appel and Buehler), the Pirates still have two good prospects in the high minors (Barrett Barnes and Max Moroff) one kid with raw but quality tools (Mathisen), a future Majore League reliever (John Kuchno) and Adrian Sampson, who they’ve already turned into Major League production.

      • Yeah Sampson netted them Happ who’s been a revelation so far. Mathisen does have excellent on base ability so the hitting might come. As far as I know that’s a good sign for a player in the low minors. Looking at his stats on fangraphs, his BABIP isn’t particularly high and his power stinks. He’s only 21 so that may come but he definitely appears to have good pitch recognition if nothing else.

        • Even a little bit of power and he turns into a starting prospect; everything else seems to be there.

          • Seems to be a common theme across the Pirates’ system. Good contact, good OBP, not a lot of power. Although, the Pirates offense seems to do just fine without a bigtime power hitter. They have like 6 or 7 guys that can hit 15+ homers and 30+ doubles. That lineup is deep right now. Best bench they’ve ever had.

            • I don’t think there’s any doubt that they’ve significantly changed their drafting philosophy towards those type of players, and it’s to their credit that basically all of them are turning out as expected.

              Now, I’m skeptical of how far that profile can be pushed on a team-wide basis. The current club is one of the very few worst power hitting teams in the league, and they still have far more game power than the next batch of prospects currently project to have. They’ll also strike out less and get on base more, so it’s still quite possible it all evens out, but there’s no question that getting the few guys they have with above average raw power like Bell and Meadows to tap into it more will make them a better overall team.

              • The Bucs are 10th in homers but first in doubles. I think they do an excellent job making up for a lack of homers. I also think that Kang and Polanco are both gonna see an uptick in power next year with Kang hitting 20+ and Polanco hitting 15+. It’s also possible that Marte improves in the power department as well. I’d love to see Marte, Cutch, and Polanco all hit 20+ homers in the same year one of these years.

            • Apropos of nothing.

              Good contact, good OBP, not a lot of power add in non-toolsy and can play more than one position at an average level and you pretty much summed up my view of the Cardinals organization philosophy.

      • What’s the problem with Appel, as far as you can tell? His numbers have been ugly, although I know that doesn’t tell the whole story.

        • He has always lacked deception in his delivery and his fastball doesn’t seem to move a whole lot. Those were criticisms of him when he got drafted and I think those things are still true. Maybe there are other issues also.

        • capirate got most of it, from my perspective. Appel seems to fall in that category that Gerrit Cole was also in for a time, albeit less severe; just way more hittable than the stuff suggests.

          From what I gather his stuff can come and go, too. 70 slider paired with 98mph at the knees one day, gone the next.

    • On a related note, the 2011, 2013, and 2014 classes all look to be fantastic. 2014 has Tucker, Joe, Keller, Supak, Luplow, Suchy, Eppler, Coley, Hinsz, and DuRapau. All those guys show solid promise with Eppler and DuRapau already in AA. That’s not even mentioning guys like Gushue, Duncan, Simpson, and Suiter who all made solid contributions as well. That class has a lot of potential.

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