Black MLB Players #5: Josh Bell
Josh Bell is a 27 year old first baseman from Dallas, Texas that plays for the Washington Nationals. He committed to The University of Texas at Austin to play baseball with a full scholarship, being one of the most lauded high school baseball players of his class. The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted him in the second round of the 2011 MLB Draft. The Pirates pulled him away from his commitment to Texas after both parties agreed to a contract with a $5 million dollar signing bonus, the largest signing bonus ever given to a draftee out of the second round.
Josh Bell made his minor league debut in 2012, and reached the MLB level on July 8th, 2016 at the age of 22 years old. He is a switch hitter, being able to bat from both sides of the plate, and throws right handed. Bell’s mechanics and splits as a left handed hitter are much better than those as a right handed hitter. He displays a much better ability to make quality contact versus right handed pitchers than lefties. As a defender, he is borderline unplayable at first base, and has outgrown the corner outfield position he played in high school. At 6'4'’, 240 pounds, he posts pretty decent run times, but provides negative values as a baserunner. Bell was around 8–10% better than average from an offensive standpoint for the first three seasons at the MLB level.
During the 2019 season he made adjustments to his approach, hitting for more power and driving in more runs. He increased his launch angle, exit velocity, hard hit %, and also made more quality contact which led to better results at the plate. In 2019, Josh Bell made the National League All Star Roster as a reserve at 1st base. For 2020 and beyond, Josh Bell projects to be a bat first first baseman that provides the ability to hit for power with out striking out a ton, get on base at an above average rate, and drive in runs from the middle of a line up.