Dodger Prospect #13 3B Josh Bell

Latest in a series on top Dodger prospects as we count down to the very best. We now will complete the series with the top 10 prospects in the system. Today we highlight #10, 3B Josh Bell.

Going into his senior season at Lantana, Florida 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 envisioned 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

In 2005, his first season, he delivered more for average than power, hitting .318 with seven doubles, one triple and one homer but he spent a good deal of the time hitting shots to the far reaches of the spacious practice fields on which the Gulf Coast games are played only to see them die in outfielders' gloves.

He got the bat through the zone quickly and showed promise from both sides of the plate with a bit more pop from the right side. He played shortstop in high school but was converted after signing.

He certainly had the arm for third along with enough quickness in his hands and feet although he had a lot of smoothing out to do in the field.

The Dodgers have been busy stockpiling prospects at third base. Willie Aybar made an impression in Los Angeles and was traded to Atlanta; Andy LaRoche seems poised on the brink of big things and Blake DeWitt is coming along very well. Eduardo Perez won the GCL batting title but Bell pushed him into a different position after a sparkling first season and recently, Austin Gallagher jumped directly from high school to Ogden and did quite well.

Bell stirred some controversy among members of the Dodger front office late in the spring of 2006. 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 had been decided that he needed another year in the Gulf Coast League but when scouting director Logan White heard that, he stepped in, pointing out that Bell had hit .318 in that circuit the previous summer, had been scalding the ball all through the extended camp and needed more of a challenge. So, the decision was reversed and he was sent the more demanding Pioneer League instead.

So off he went to Ogden and quickly proved to be one of the finer hitting prospects in that circuit. He ripped the ball with some monster games, winding up with a .308 average, 12 homers in 64 games, a .544 slugging percentage and the designation as the All-Star third baseman.

The switch hitter with a quick, slashing stroke from both sides tended to let his swing get long as he gets homer conscious and is therefore prone to striking out then but he's quite strong. He can be fooled by smart pitchers because he can be impatient, a habit he should break with experience.

At age 20, he pounded Midwest League pitching at Great Lakes, hitting .289 and starting to display the power everyone has been waiting for. He was fourth in the league with a .489 slugging percentage and before being promoted to Inland Empire, had collected 21 doubles, three triples and 15 home runs, driving in 62 runs.

Moved to High-A at the end of the season, he was a bit overwhelmed, hitting .173 over 20 games but he knocked in nine runs in the short time he was there.

At third, he's still 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 and he's getting the footwork down so until that straightens out or he is switched to a different position, the Dodgers will have to live with the errors. But the main thing is that bat can smoke.

He'll open the 2008 season at age 21 with the Sixty-Sixers but the way he is progressing, you can look for him in Jacksonville later in the season.

His record:
Joshua Bell   ss  tr  6-3  235
Born- November 13, 1986
Obtained- Selected in fourth round of 2005 draft

year	team     ave   obp   gm   ab   r   h   2b  3b hr  bi sb
2005	GCL	.318  .399   45  157  26   50   7  1   1  21  5
2006	Ogden	.308  .367   64  250  45   77  17  3  12  53  4
2007	GLak	.289  .354  108  398  65  115  21  3  15  62  5
	InEm	.173  .203   20   75   4   13   2  1   2   9  0

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