Bucs bet on Bell in 2nd round
High school outfielder Josh Bell asked teams not to draft him. The Pirates didn't listen.
Despite Bell's plans to honor his commitment to go to the University of Texas next year, the Pirates on Tuesday couldn't pass up the Jesuit (Dallas) College Prep switch-hitter who batted .548 with 54 RBI and had a 1.054 slugging percentage, making him the first pick of the second round -- 61st overall.
"We drafted him because we're optimistic we can sign him," general manager Neal Huntington said. "We know it's going to be difficult, but we believe both parties will work hard to come to a mutually acceptable agreement. If not, then we wish him nothing but the best. But we're optimistic."
Bell was one of 29 players the Pirates drafted in rounds two through 30. The picks include 10 high school pitchers (eight of them right-handers), seven high school position players (including five outfielders), five college pitchers and seven college position players. The 2011 first-year player draft concludes today with rounds 31 through 50.
Of those selected yesterday, Bell is the most intriguing.
Baseball America rated him the top corner outfielder and fifth-best position player available in this year's draft. He's 6 foot 3 and 206 pounds, and in addition to his gaudy averages, he struck out just five times in 139 plate appearances this year.
Despite having the potential to go midway through the first round, Bell sent a letter to Major League Baseball's scouting bureau stating that he planned to attend Texas and did not want to be drafted. While the letter could be viewed as a tactic in contract negotiations, it was enough to cause every other team to pass over him, some three or four times including the compensatory round.
Reached by phone last night, Bell's mother, Myrtle, a professor who holds a Ph.D. at Texas-Arlington, said she was pleased and honored the Pirates chose Bell. She was also surprised, given her son's commitment to Texas.
"But I was still pleased about it because it says that they respect his talent, and I really respect them for taking a chance on him," she said.
Asked if there's any chance the Pirates could lure Bell from Texas, his mother said, "I can't speak for Josh, but I'd say (his commitment to Texas) is very, very strong. He's never wavered in his statement about that, and I don't think that's changed."
Bell, as well as Gerrit Cole, whom the Pirates selected first overall, is being advised by super agent Scott Boras' group.
The Pirates spent a total of $11.9 million signing 27 players in the 2010 draft, with $8.75 million going to No. 2 overall pick Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie, another projected first-rounder who fell to the second round.
It likely will take first-round money to convince Bell to change his mind. That, coupled with the money the Pirates need to sign Cole as the No. 1 pick, would be significant. And Huntington said last night the Pirates don't have unlimited resources.
Cole likely won't command as much money as the past two No. 1 picks because he wasn't overwhelmingly considered the draft's best player like Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg.
Harper, last year's No. 1 pick, received a five-year, $9.9 million contract. Strasburg, the top pick in 2009, signed a four-year, $15.1 million deal. Both players were drafted by the Washington Nationals.
If the Pirates can't sign Bell, they'll get a compensatory pick in the 2012 draft, in this case the second pick in the second round.
"We like the player, and we're going to give every effort in the world to get him signed," Huntington said.
Pirates picks, day two
Here's a look at the Pirates' picks in rounds two through 30 on Tuesday. The draft concludes today with rounds 31 through 50.
Round 2, 61st overall, outfielder Josh Bell, Dallas Jesuit High School (Texas). 6-3, 206 pounds, 18 years old.
Round 3, 91st overall, first baseman Alex Dickerson, University of Indiana. 6-3, 235 pounds, 21 years old.
Round 4, 122nd overall, right-handed pitcher Colten Brewer, Canton High School (Texas). 6-4, 200 pounds, 18 years old.
Round 5, 152nd overall, right-handed pitcher Tyler Glasnow, Hart High School (Calif.) 6-7, 200 pounds, 17 years old.
Round 6, 182nd overall, third-baseman Daniel Gamache, Auburn. 5-11, 195 pounds, 20 years old.
Round 7, 212th overall, right-handed pitcher Jake Burnette, Buford High School (Ga.). 6-4, 177 pounds. 18 years old.
Round 8, 242nd overall, right-handed pitcher Jason Creasy, Clayton High School (N.C.). 6-4, 19 years old.
Round 9, 272nd overall, right-handed pitcher Clay Holmes, Slocomb High School (Ala.). 6-5, 230 pounds. 18 years old.
Round 10, 302nd overall, center fielder Taylor Lewis, Univ. of Maine-Orono. 6-1, 205 pounds, 21 years old.
Round 11, 332nd overall, center fielder Jo-El Bennett-Lowe, Houston Academy (Ala.). 6-2, 180 pounds, 18 years old.
Round 12, 362nd overall, center fielder Condon Myles, South Grand Prairie High School (Texas). 5-10, 18 years old.
Round 13, 392nd overall, right-handed pitcher Brandon Plotts, Mason City High School (Iowa). 6-4, 210 pounds, 18 years old.
Round 14, 422nd overall, outfielder Jordan Dunatov, Horizon High School (Ariz.). 6-5, 200 pounds, 18 years old.
Round 15, 452nd overall, right-handed pitcher Kody Watts, Skyview High School (Wash.). 6-3, 185 pounds, 18 years old.
Round 16, 482nd overall, left-handed pitcher Eric Skoglund, Sarasota High School (Fla.). 6-6 180 pounds, 18 years old.
Round 17, 512th overall, right fielder Aaron Brown, Chatsworth High School (Calif.). 6-2, 18 years old.
Round 18, 542nd overall, left-handed pitcher Josh Poytress, Fresno State. 6-2, 185 pounds, 20 years old.
Round 19, 572nd overall, right-handed pitcher Mike Nunez, Salem High School (La.). 6-4, 185 pounds, 18 years old.
Round 20, 602nd overall, shortstop Trea Turner, Park Vista Community High School (Fla.). 6-2, 160 pounds, 17 years old.
Round 21, 632nd overall, center fielder Alex Fuselier, Louisiana-Lafaytette. 6-0, 185 pounds, 21 years old.
Round 22, 662nd overall, left-handed pitcher Michael Jefferson, Louisiana Tech. 6-5, 190 pounds, 21 years old.
Round 23, 692nd overall, right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper, Kentucky. 6-3, 215 pounds, 21 years old.
Round 24, 722nd overall, shortstop Brian Sharp, California Baptist Univ. 6-0, 195 pounds, 22 years old.
Round 25, 752nd overall, right-handed pitcher Josh Martin, Samford Univ. 6-4, 205 pounds, 21 years old.
Round 26, 782nd overall, shortstop Nicholas Flair, Belle Chasse High School (La.). 6-3, 180 pounds, 18 years old.
Round 27, 812th overall, catcher Ryan Hornback, San Jacinto College North (Texas). 6-1, 180 pounds, 20 years old.
Round 28, 842nd overall, left-handed pitcher Jeffrey Zajac, Walker Valley High School (Tenn.) 6-4, 210 pounds, 18 years old.
Round 29, 872nd overall, shortstop Kirk Singer, Cal State-Long Beach. 6-2, 170 pounds, 21 years old.
Round 30, 902nd overall, right-handed pitcher Matthew Benedict, Western Carolina Univ. 6-5, 200 pounds, 22 years old.