The Curve will have six players in tonight's Eastern League All-Star Game, then tomorrow the team will add perhaps its biggest star of the season.
Josh Bell, a highly touted outfield prospect, is scheduled to join the Curve after the All-Star break on Thursday. A switch hitter, Bell tore it up at high-A Bradenton, hitting .335 with nine homers, 53 RBIs and an .886 OPS.
"In spring training I spent a little time with him," Curve manager Carlos Garcia said. "He's a good hitter, definitely a guy that can drive the ball out of the ballpark and hit for a high average, like he was doing in Florida. Hopefully he can continue to put up those kind of numbers here."
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Liam Johnston, 2, of Altoona leans in to get a better look at Tuesday’s action.
Bell received a big number as a signing bonus, getting $5 million from the Pirates as a second-round pick in 2011. He was rated as the No. 77 prospect in the minors entering this season, and based on what he's done at Bradenton, that number is even better now.
Double-A will present a big test for him, tough, as it always does for promising young prospects.
"He has continued to improve all season and has shown us that he is ready to take on the next set of challenges that Double-A will throw at him," Pirates farm director Larry Broadway said.
Bell is coming off an appearance in the MLB All-Star Futures Game on Sunday in Minnesota.
Bell is 6-foot-3 and 213 pounds, terrific size that means he could develop into a big-time power threat. He only played right field at Bradenton, but Garcia said Bell could play some left field, too, since the Curve have another good young prospect in right in Willy Garcia.
"With that kind of talent, he can play anywhere," Garcia said.
That ultimately, down the road, could be first base for Bell. The Pirates already have their "dream outfield" of Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco, and if Bell develops the way the organization hopes, then a move to first base could be in the cards at some point.
The Curve drew an impressive 4,894 fans to Tuesday's charity softball game and hitting challenge.
Willy Garcia wound up leading the Western Division team to victory in the hitting challenge, smacking four homers and driving in 13 runs to lead his squad back from a 21-9 deficit to claim a 22-21 victory.
Garcia will manage the Western Division team tonight and be joined by his Curve coaching staff.
Garcia selected Richmond's Ty Blach (7-4, 2.98 ERA) as his starting pitcher. The Eastern Division starter was not named Tuesday.