There's A Crowd At Third with Bell Added

The Dodgers have been busy stockpiling prospects at just about every position with third base certainly being one that seems well-supplied. Willie Aybar made an impression in Los Angeles after his September call-up; Andy LaRoche seems poised on the brink of big things and Blake DeWitt is coming along very well. Just for good measure, this past season, Josh Bell was added to the equation.

Bell is fresh from Santaluces High School in Lantana, Fla. where he was regarded as one of the state's top prospects by some scouts; not so much by others. The Dodgers looked hard at him during the spring when his play was somewhat uneven, were impressed by his performance and his attitude in a workout, then drafted him in the fourth round.

They look on him as a potential power plant at third; however while he hit for average as a pro (.318 in the Gulf Coast League), he managed only one home run. There were a great many shots that outfielders gathered in just short of the distant fences at Dodgertown Field One, the home base for the GCL entry, so it looks like the growth factor plus weight training could well mean that more than a few of those will make over the walls as he progresses.

There's also been some fine-tuning with his swing by organizational batting instructor George Hendricks in the Instructional League. At the same time, there's also been concerned about his tendency to put on weight, something that caused some other clubs to hesitate on selecting him.

Josh admits that he's packed on a bit too much, too soon. "I weighed 205 at the end of my junior year but I weigh 230 now," he admits. "I'd like to take off about 10 pounds and convert the rest into muscle."

He's a switch-hitter who didn't find the conversion from a metal bat to a wood one all that difficult as that batting average would indicate. "I felt more comfortable as I went along," he allows . He backs up that assertion by the fact that he did his best hitting late in the season.

There was still another conversion taking place for he had never played third before, always being stationed at short. His play in the field was predicatably rough at times as he adjusted, particuarly to the longer throw. His hands and feet actions along with a good arm give encouragement here.

Although he was good enough to make the varsity basketball squad as a freshman, Josh never considered following that game as his sports occupation. "I'm not tall enough (6-3)" is his viewpoint. Besides, his older brother Jacob was always the true basketball player in the family, he believes.

If Jacob set the standard in hoops, Josh has an even loftier person as his role model on the diamond -- fellow Floridian Alex Rodriguez. That's the player he's seeking to be most like.

He won't be 19 until November so he's got time to achive that goal. In the meantime, he's had the kind of start that encourages the Dodgers to feel that in Josh they have another good one on the way.

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