Bell on the move
Josh Bell could have a new position to play next year. The Pirates’ No. 7 prospect, according to Baseball America, is being looked with a move to first base this offseason.
Tuesday night his teammates hung on for a 3-2 win over Richmond before 3,799 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
Bell was drafted as an outfielder in the second round of the 2011 MLB Draft. The last time he played in the infield was in high school.
“It’s one of those things where I’m glad to have that in my bag,” Bell said. “Just to be able to play a second position, it’s always going to work out in my favor.”
He will have his first chance to play in the infield this fall when he joins seven other Curve players in the Arizona Fall League.
Bell is batting .287 with seven RBIs since joining the Curve on July 17. He hit .335 with nine home runs and 35 RBIs at Class A Bradenton, and was named the Florida State League’s Player of the Year Tuesday.
“Hopefully learn what I can and be able to be the best first baseman I can be in the years to come,” he said of the change.
He has been on the disabled list since Aug. 19 when he suffered a left knee contusion, his second injury to the same knee. The outfielder has been throwing and hitting daily in the mean time.
Tuesday night on the field was a special night for Bell’s fellow outfielder, Willy Garcia.
With the Curve leading 3-2, the right fielder fired a long bomb from deep right field to catcher Carlos Paulino, getting Richmond’s Blake Miller for the out. That was his 19th outfield assist in franchise history, breaking the previous mark set by Starling Marte in 2011.
“Willy is a special kid,” Curve manager Carlos Garcia said. “He gets better and better. He enjoys throwing people out, he enjoys showcasing his arm.
“He has a chance to be a special player.”
Willy Garcia is rated as the top outfield arm in the Pirates system by Baseball America, and has a .947 fielding percentage this season.
“I’m feeling really good, because I’m getting better, and I’m growing up,” Garcia said through translator Stolmy Pimentel. “The ability to throw to the base, I’m feeling really good about that.”
Garcia isn’t just making a name for himself in the field. He’s also become a potent part of the Curve’s lineup.
Early in the season his batting average hovered between the low .100s and to the low .200s. He is now batting .281 with 18 home runs and 62 RBIs.
“(Curve hitting coach) Ryan Long did a very good job with him,” Carlos Garcia said. “Teaching him to be patient, and learning how the pitchers are going to attack him. When that happens, he will be able to hit more balls in the strike zones, and that’s happening.”
He is on pace to break his personal bests in batting average (.286 in 2011),
“He was always proud of how he played defense, and that is why he is one of the best in the league, and probably one of the best in baseball.”
“He has a very good chance to be an everyday player, and to sustain success at any level. Somethings have to be cleaned up, nothing is perfect. He is a kid who we enjoy watching on an everyday basis. He has put in the work, slowly, but he’s going to be what we expect.”
“I’ve been working a lot in practice. I’ve been learning, and I’ve been feeling very well about that.”
“I’m feeling more confident, because I’ve been through the season in the batters box, and I’ve been looking for a better pitch.”
Key Player: RF Willy Garcia belted a RBI single, and had an outfield assist.
Key Play: Garcia’s outfield assist to retire Richmond’s Blake Miller stopped the Flying Squirrels from tying the game.
Key Stat: Garcia’s 19th outfield assist broke the franchise record, which was last set in 2011 by Starling Marte.
How They Scored
Top 2nd: Schroder homered (0-1).
Top 4th: Lisson homered (0-2).
Bot 4th: Allie doubled, scored on fielding error by Schroder (1-2); Cabrera singled, scored on Harlan single (2-2).
Bot 6th: Garcia singled, scored on Paulino single (3-2).