Bell focuses on future success with Bucs
Club's Futures Game representative may be next outfield star
MINNEAPOLIS -- Josh Bell opts not to pay all that much attention to what's in front of him -- and, more importantly, to who is ahead of him.
As the Pirates tout their Major League dream outfield -- one in which anchor Andrew McCutchen is flanked by up-and-coming talents Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco -- Bell continues his climb through the system with the potential to be the organization's next outfield star.
That is, at least as long as the Pirates keep him on that track.
Speaking a few hours before representing Pittsburgh in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, Bell said the organization has not yet approached him about a position change -- even though one might clear a more obvious path to the Majors for the 21-year-old switch-hitter.
Bell, 21, said he is open to the conversation of conversion, but that for now he envisions his path to the big leagues coming as a right fielder. It's been his primary position since high school, when he made the switch from shortstop upon earning a varsity spot as a freshman.
"They definitely have a stacked outfield. But, right now, I'm in high-A baseball just trying to get better," Bell said. "Right now, I'm a right fielder, and I love it out there. I'm just trying to be the best player I can be right now, and hopefully, it will be good enough."
Regardless the position in Bell's future, what the Pirates are banking will be good enough is his bat. Pittsburgh did the unexpected in luring Bell away from the University of Texas with a $5 million bonus offer after taking the 6-foot-3 outfielder in the second round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
It was a figure Bell couldn't pass up, and marked the highest bonus ever handed out to a player not taken in the first round.
Bell's 2012 season was mostly lost due to a knee injury, though he came back to play in 119 games in 2013. He's on pace to play even more in 2014 -- a season which Bell has spent in high-A, but one he could conceivably close at Double-A Altoona.
"It's going quite well for me," said Bell, ranked by MLB.com as the Pirates' sixth-best prospect. "I'm hitting really well from both sides of the plate. I'm trying to be as feared a person in the lineup as I can be right now."
Bell ranks among the Florida State League leaders in several offensive categories -- including slugging percentage (.495, 1st), batting average (.333, 2nd), RBIs (51, 5th), doubles (20, 8th) and on-base percentage (.380, 9th).
He had an opportunity to match up against the Minors' best on Sunday, as he entered the game as a right-field replacement in the top of the sixth. Bell grounded out in his only at-bat.
This marked the second time the native Texan had showcased his skills on a Minneapolis field. In 2009, Bell played at the Metrodome as part of a Perfect Game showcase event when he was 16 years old.
"Honestly, it's unlike any other experience," Bell said of his return trip to Minnesota. "And especially with the track record that the Futures Game has had with big leaguers and All-Star appearances later in these players' careers. It's unbelievable to be a part of such a great linage of people."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.