The Chicago Cubs were in Bradenton, Florida last week scouting Pittsburgh Pirates outfield prospect Josh Bell, who is ranked No. 59 on the MLB’s Top 100 Prospect List.
With the trio of Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco, the Pirates outfield seems to be set for several years. This is why Bell may be trade bait as the Pirates make their playoff run.
The 6-foot-3 outfielder is batting .333 with nine home runs and 51 RBIs for the Bradenton Marauders, the Pirates single-A team. After a blazing month of June, Bell was selected for the 2014 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, which features teams of top minor-league prospects from U.S. and World teams.
Bell has the potential to be a star in the majors, but the Pirates don’t need another outfielder. There have been talks of moving the slugger to first base, but the organization has yet to try.
Bell is an ideal trade option for an organization like the Cubs who are looking to rebuild. He has drive, is a well-rounded hitter, is a switch hitter that bats well against both righties and lefties, and a solid defensive outfielder.
The Cubs are shopping Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, two players that could give the Pirates offense the extra push it needs. Castro is one of the best shortstops in the game. He is a career .282 hitter, but he can be a hazard in the field.
Much like Pedro Alvarez, Castro can make a dazzling play and then turn around and botch a routine ground ball. Even though he could help Pittsburgh offensively, he could make the left side of the infield a bigger liability than it already is.
Plus Castro has a tendency to be lazy. He is speedy and has potential, but so many times the 24-yeaar-old shortstop acts like he doesn’t care.
The Cubs’ first baseman would be a huge upgrade for the Pirates. He is batting .277 with 20 homers and 49 RBIs. This week he won a spot in the All-Star game thanks to the MLB.com Fan Vote.
Strikeouts kill the Pirates at times and Rizzo has reduced his strikeout percent from 30.1% in his first year with San Diego all the way down to 17.8% this season. He has patient at the plate, which is a reason for the increase in his power.
Rizzo would be the best scenario for the Pirates if they can package a deal with Bell and a couple other prospects. Even if Pittsburgh can’t work out a trade with the Cubs, Bell could be perfect bait for another bullpen arm or something else that could help a push for October.
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