Scouting Rangers Prospect #44: Chad Bell

Left-hander Chad Bell has yet to pitch in an official professional game, but he already flashes an advanced three-pitch arsenal. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the 20-year-old prospect with a feature article and an in-depth scouting report.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Chad Bell
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: February 28, 1989
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 200
Bats: Right
Throws: Left
Acquired: 2009 Amateur Draft, 14th round

The first portion of this article came from the September 30 Q&A with Bell. The link to that interview can be found between the first portion and the scouting report.

Although Major League Baseball's latest Collective Bargaining Agreement did away with the draft-and-follow rule for junior college players, clubs are still able to scout JUCO guys in summer wood bat leagues prior to the mid-August signing deadline.

The Texas Rangers selected Walters State Community College left-hander Chad Bell in the 14th round of the 2009 MLB Draft with the intention of following him in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League.

Originally a product of South Doyle High School in Knoxville, Tenn., Bell was taken by the Brewers in the 25th round out of high school, but he instead opted to attend junior college.

Bell went on Walters State, where he posted a 12-2 record with a 3.70 earned-run average during his freshman campaign. The performance got Bell drafted once again, this time in the 37th round by Cleveland.

According to Bell, the Indians drafted him as a summer follow, but he didn't end up pitching in summerball because of his high innings total. Because Bell didn't play, the two sides never even began negotiating, and he returned to Walters for another season.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound hurler showed major improvement in his sophomore season, as he was 8-1 with a 2.08 ERA. Bell pitched in 65 innings, giving up just 48 hits [.198 BAA]. Additionally, he walked just 17 while striking out 78.

The Rangers drafted Bell in the 14th round after his collegiate season, and he moved on to the Cape Cod League, where his performance would basically decide whether he'd attend the University of Tennessee or sign with the Rangers.

Bell was more than impressive against the elite competition of the Cape League, tossing a no-hitter and posting a 1.77 ERA in 45.2 innings [11 games, 7 starts] for Cotuit. The 20-year-old surrendered only 27 hits while walking 15 and fanning 46.

But it wasn't all about results for Bell and the Rangers. The southpaw's velocity ticked up over the summer, as he sat around 89-92 mph. He flashed one of the best changeups in the circuit and showed the ability to throw his breaking ball for strikes.

The performance enticed the Rangers to give him a $450,000 signing bonus to forego his commitment to his hometown Tennessee Volunteers.

Because Bell signed just before the mid-August signing deadline, he has yet to appear in an official professional game. Earlier in the offseason, Bell pitched with the Rangers' Fall Instructional League club in Arizona.

Also See: Bell building on excellent summer (September 30, 2009)

Repertoire: Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball: Coming into his 2009 season at Tennessee's Walters State Community College, Bell was regarded as a name to watch, but he wasn't a major prospect due to his middling 86-88 mph fastball velocity. Most teams liked the projectability in his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame and his ability to throw strikes, but he worked in the upper-80s at his best.

As the '09 season progressed, and particularly in the Cape Cod League, Bell's velocity began to tick up with consistency. After his JUCO season, the Rangers took a flyer on the Bell in the 14th round. In the Cape, he consistently worked anywhere between 89-92 mph, and the club eventually chose to sign him for $450,000. As he gets into a professional training and throwing program, there may still be room for Bell to add a bit more velocity to his fastball.

Other Pitches: Bell showed the ability to command both his changeup and curveball in the Cape Cod League, and his ability to throw three decent pitches for quality strikes could allow him to move through the system quickly. The left-hander's best offspeed pitch is his advanced change, which has excellent deception and velocity separation from his fastball. While Bell's curveball isn't above-average at this point, he has a good feel for it and throws it for strikes. The development of his curve could give him three average-to-above average big league offerings.

Projection: As a polished collegiate pitcher with good––but not overpowering––stuff, Bell seems to have a mid-rotation ceiling, but he's likely a back-of-the-rotation guy down the line. Part of what makes him one of the system's better prospects is his polish. Bell has a very good chance of reaching the Majors within the next two-to-three seasons, and he has the ability to stick as a legitimate starting pitcher.

2010 Outlook: With a solid three-pitch repertoire that includes an advanced changeup and an improving fastball, Bell just might have the polish to start the season in the rotation at High-A Bakersfield. Even if he doesn't start there, he appears headed for full-season ball [either Bakersfield or Hickory] when Spring Training breaks. The pitcher dominated the elite Cape Cod League, and he got some experience in Advanced Instructional League over the offseason. Regardless of what happens during the season, Bell isn't likely to advance past High-A, but crazier things have happened.

ETA: 2012.

Year Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
2009 DNP - Signed Late --- --- --- --- --- ---

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