Josh Bell, third baseman
Is he the Orioles’ third baseman of the future?
Not of the immediate future, obviously, since the Orioles acquired Mark Reynolds in a trade during the off-season.
Can he be a solid regular third baseman?
Bell, a fourth-round draft pick of the Dodgers, was a fairly good prospect until he exploded in 2009 in AA. He was traded to the Orioles’ organization in the George Sherrill trade and continued to play well. He was promoted to AAA and considered to be a potential star. After he got off to a slow start at Norfolk, he was promoted to the Orioles when Miguel Tejada was traded and was terrible — .214/.224/.302, with a 53/2 K/BB ratio.
Obviously, anyone with a 53/2 K/BB ratio can’t play. Equally obviously, he’s can’t be THAT bad. Those of us who saw Bell at Norfolk, especially at the beginning of the season, saw him as a really good athlete but not that good of a baseball player — he struck out a lot and made a lot of errors. That combination really turns off people like us, who aren’t great athletes ourselves.
Despite that, Bell wasn’t that bad. Yes, he’s going to strike out a lot — but he still slugged .481 in Norfolk. And remember, Norfolk is the worst hitters’ park in AAA — a .481 slugging percentage in Norfolk is (1) not over Bell’s head and (2) pretty close to a .481 slugging percentage in the majors. Yes, he’s going to make a lot of errors, but he still had a range factor of over 2.5. I think Bell could have a couple of good years as a regular, but he’ll need (1) a fairly long transition time and (2) a team willing to put up with strikeouts and errors. Think Darnell Coles, if you go back that far.