Pittsburgh Pirates: MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects for 2017

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Pittsburgh Pirates top first base prospect
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

# 27, Josh Bell, First Baseman

Josh Bell ranked number 20 overall on MLB Pipelines midseason 2016 list.  This year he comes in at number 27 overall.  Bell, also has ranked as the number two overall first base prospect the last two seasons.  Bell, who is a career .309 hitter in the minor leagues, made his big league debut in 2016.  He became the team’s regular first baseman down the stretch run of the season, appearing in 45 games. Bell likely fell in the rankings mainly because he will be losing prospect status in just two at-bats. The other reason could be because he did not show much progress defensively last year.


Bell hit over .300 most of the season at Triple-A, and was doing so leading up to his MLB debut.  However, he was sent down due to roster constraints and saw his average slip some to .295.  This is not unusual as most prospects struggle due to discouragement from being demoted, especially when they were performing at the big league level.  Regardless, Bell posted a slash line of .295/.382/.468 with 14 home runs in 114 games.  Then at the MLB level, he posted a respectable slash line of .273/.368/.406 with three homers, including a grand slam against the Cubs.


Bell will be the everyday first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates from day one this year.  He likely will be the number four hitter that the Bucs have been without for the better part of the decade.  With that, the switch-hitter will hopefully make strides on the defensive side of things as well. If so, the Bucs very well could finally have a legitimate, everyday, impact first baseman for the near, and long term, future.