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Minor league notebook: Bell becoming well-rounded hitter at Bradenton

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Pirates prospect Josh Bell is is hitting.450 with 10 RBIs in his past 10 games for Single-A Bradenton.

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By John Lembo
Saturday, May 17, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

BRADENTON, Fla. — It's hard to quibble with Josh Bell's numbers.

While most of Bradenton's offense has scuffled during the first part of the Florida State League season, Bell has been consistent, batting .313 with a .473 slugging percentage in 39 games.

But there is more improvement if you look deeper. A switch hitter, Bell is batting .255 against lefties (.343 against righties), which isn't great. But the number has spiked about 100 points.

“It's definitely still early. We've just got past a quarter of the way through,” Bell said. “I'm sure things will even out. I'm starting to see the ball a little bit better right-handed and sitting on the pitcher's pitches, for the most part. Hopefully, I can keep with that mindset and keep it rolling.”

Bell's overall numbers are up as of late. He is hitting .450 with 10 RBIs in his past 10 games and .357 in May.

Another spot where Bell has excelled is with runners in scoring position, hitting .378 with 17 RBIs in 37 at-bats.

Pat of all trades

Pat Ludwig has become a valuable and versatile member of the Marauders' pitching staff.

Ludwig is 2-0 with a 2.76 ERA in three starts but has also posted a 2.66 ERA in 20 13 innings spread over seven appearances.

Ludwig has no decisions as a reliever but has recorded a save.

Close to perfect

Orlando Castro nearly made history Friday when he took a no-hitter deep into the second game of a doubleheader against the Lakeland Flying Tigers.

(Each game of a minor league doubleheader is seven innings.)

Not only did Castro not achieve perfection, he didn't even earn the win. Lakeland scored three runs in the seventh off Castro and reliever Thomas Harlan and won the game 4-3 in eight innings.

Castro is 2-2 with a 3.35 ERA in seven starts.

Switching sides

The Marauders will spend the season using the visiting team's dugout, bullpen and clubhouse this season.

But they'll be doing so for a good reason: The Pirates recently announced $6.5 million in renovations for their Bradenton facilities, which includes a new home clubhouse and agility field at McKechnie Field.

Pirate City, the Pirates' sprawling minor league complex located less than five miles from McKechnie Field, will be getting a new weight facility, as well.

The projects are supposed to be finished before the Pirates return to McKechnie Field for spring training in February 2015.

John Lembo is a freelance writer.

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