Dodger Prospect #6 3B Josh Bell

Now topping a list of remarkable minor league third basemen in the organization, it wasn't long ago that Josh Bell nearly didn't keep the attention of the Dodgers scouting staff long enough to get drafted. Going into his senior season at Lantana, Florida High, he had been regarded as a possible first or second-rounder in the draft.

6-3 235 TR BS
Born- November 13, 1986
Obtained- Selected in fourth round of 2005 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 prospects.

But then Bell paid his way to fly from Florida to New Orleans to attend a pre-draft Dodger workout, and after a talk with Logan White, the Dodger Assistant GM, Scouting, hi dedication to succeed came through loud and clear.

They also saw a high school shortstop with so much power that he could be moved to third and deliver the required pop from that position. So, they were able to nab Josh in the fourth 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 at Vero Beach 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 power 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 had been busy stockpiling prospects at third base. Willie Aybar, Andy LaRoche, Blake DeWitt, Eduardo Perez but Bell edged to the top after a sparkling first season.

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 in 2005 and seemed more than ready for that move.

And that meant Josh Bell would 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 to Ogden in the more demanding Pioneer League instead.

So off he went to Utah 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 remarkably strong and produces mammoth home runs. He can be fooled by smart pitchers because he can be impatient, a habit he should break with experience.

While he shows rare potential from both sides of the plate, but his right handed swing seems to generate more consistent power. Bell has plus raw power that could eventually make him a 30 homer threat. Like with most raw talents with huge power, Bell tends to fall in love with trying to hit homers instead of sticking with his approach.

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.

In 2008, he started the season strongly but a knee injury set him back and then it was decided to have the operation immediately and be ready for 2009. So he was finished after playing 51 games, a bit less than a third of the season, hitting .273 with 20 extra base hits and 21 runs batted in.

At third, he's still a work in progress, although he posted a good 2.19 run factor. 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 an his fielding average during the abbreviated 2008 season was 9.32, a career best.

For a player whose game is still so raw, Bell is surprisingly statistically productive. His .236 ISO (Isolated power, batting average using only extra base hits) in his first professional season was an immediate sign of the plus raw power to come. He moved up a level in 2007 and still put up a respectable .181 ISO before being overmatched after getting promoted again late in the year. He was at .182 during his short season with the 66ers.

?Bell could easily develop into a .280-.290 hitter with 30 home run power. His plate discipline could improve to the point where he puts up good OBP numbers, although he'll probably always strikeout a bunch.

His future may not be at third base with the remarkable number of talented third basemen in the system but there will always be room for his bat.

He'll probably open the 2009 season at age 21 with the Sixty-Sixers but the way he is progressing, you can look for him in Chattanooga later in the season.

His record:

 Joshua Bell  
year  team   ave   obp   ops   gm   ab   r    h  2b 3b  hr  bi sb
2005  GCL   .318  .399  .794   45  157  26   50   7  1   1  21  4
2006  Ogden .308  .367  .911  250   45  77   77  17  3  12  53  0
2007  GLak  .289  .354  .824  108  398  65  115  21  3  15  62  5
      IEmp  .173  .203  .509   20   75   4   13   2  1   2   9  0
2008  IEmp  .273  .373  .827   51  187  51   51  12  2   6  21  4      
 Totals     .287  .357  .819  288 1067 174 306   59  10 36 116 18

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