Bell Proving He Belongs

As the players trekked their last weary days through the grind that is the extended spring camp, the brass met to decide the assignments of each, mainly to divvy them up between Ogden and the Gulf Coast team.

When it came to third base, they knew that they wanted Eduardo Perez for Ogden. After all, he was the GCL batting king last summer and seemed more than ready for that move. And that meant Josh Bell could be kept back in the GCL for another season so he could get in regular playing time.

It's often not a matter of projectability that determines such decisions but, rather, one of experience. But in the case of Bell, there was immediately some second-guessing.

He'd hit .318 last summer, it was pointed out, and needed the challenge of moving up a bit was the resoning. So, signals were switched and Bell was told to pack his bags for Ogden. And let the manager there, Lance Parrish, figure out how to get them both into the lineup.

So far, it's been working out just fine. Thursday, for instance, Bell was at third and Perez was used as the D.H. He delivered two hits to bring his average to .342. He came through with a single, double and triple to show that he isn't exactly intimidated by Pioneer League pitching, either.

This is not the first time Josh has had to prove himself. Going into his senior season at Lantana, Fla. High, he had been regarded as a possible first or second-rounder in the draft. However, he played the season overweight, looked sluggish, failed to produce the power some had envisoned so scouts began backing off to scope out some other likely prospect.

But when Bell paid his way to fly from Florida to New Orleans to attend a pre-draft Dodger workout, the club saw a dedication to succeed. They also saw a high school shortstop that could be moved to third and deliver the required power from that position. So, they were able to nab Josh in the sixth round, signed him and haven't been sorry .

He's a switch-hitter with strength from both sides. He has a swing from either side that can send the ball flying deep to any field. Although he had only one homer in his rookie season, he's 6-2, 205 now, in shape and should send more than a few flying out as he learns strike zone judgement.

At third, he's a work in progress. He has a more than adequate arm although his throws tend to be scattered at times. He also has the range but he's still getting the footwork down so Parrish will have to live with the errors. But the main thing is that bat can smoke.

He's still a teenager, won't be 20 until Nov. 13. And right now he's leading the team in hitting with a .385 mark. And he's already hit six doubles which is an indication of the pop that lies within him.

So, Parrish has both Perez and Bell, which makes for quite a combination. He'll be happy to figure out ways to get them in there.

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