Pirates take chance on Bell in second round
Add another bat and two pitchers in rounds 3-5
PITTSBURGH -- Before the 2011 First-Year Player Draft began, Josh Bell sent a letter to the Major League Scouting Bureau advising teams not to draft him, because the Jesuit High School slugger was planning to attend the University of Texas.
If he wasn't so committed to going to college, Bell's high school coach Brian Jones said, his right fielder might have gone in the top 15 of this year's Draft. As it was, the Pirates took a chance and drafted Bell with their first pick in the second round, making Bell the 61st overall selection.
"We recognize that it will be a tough sign," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said in an e-mail. "But we felt the upside was worth the risk."
Bell, whose mother is a professor at Texas-Arlington, hit .538 with 13 home runs, 54 RBIs and 54 runs scored this year for Jesuit. He struck out just five times in 139 plate appearances. In November, he signed a national letter of intent to play baseball for Texas.
"Without the letter informing of his strong desire to go to school, I firmly believe that he would have been a first-round pick," Jones said.
The task for the Pirates now is to convince Bell to join their organization, rather than head to Austin. Bell is advised by Scott Boras, and will most likely demand a signing bonus worthy of a first-round pick.
|1||PIT||RHP Gerrit Cole|
|2||SEA||LHP Danny Hultzen|
|3||ARI||RHP Trevor Bauer|
|4||BAL||RHP Dylan Bundy|
|5||KC||OF Bubba Starling|
|6||WAS||3B Anthony Rendon|
|7||ARI||RHP Archie Bradley|
|8||CLE||SS Francisco Lindor|
|9||CHC||SS Javier Baez|
|10||SD||2B Cory Spangenberg|
|11||HOU||OF George Springer|
|12||MIL||RHP Taylor Jungmann|
|13||NYM||OF Brandon Nimmo|
|14||FLA||RHP Jose Fernandez|
|15||MIL||LHP Jed Bradley|
|16||LAD||LHP Chris Reed|
|17||LAA||1B C.J. Cron|
|18||OAK||RHP Sonny Gray|
|19||BOS||RHP Matt Barnes|
|20||COL||LHP Tyler Anderson|
|21||TOR||RHP Tyler Beede|
|22||STL||2B Kolten Wong|
|23||WAS||RHP Alex Meyer|
|24||TB||RHP Taylor Guerrieri|
|25||SD||RHP Joe Ross|
|26||BOS||C Blake Swihart|
|27||CIN||RHP Robert Stephenson|
|28||ATL||LHP Sean Gilmartin|
|29||SF||SS Joe Panik|
|30||MIN||SS Levi Michael|
|31||TB||OF Mikie Mahtook|
|32||TB||SS Jake Hager|
|33||TEX||LHP Kevin Matthews|
If they can't reach a deal with Bell, the Pirates will receive a compensation pick next year -- the second pick of the second round.
Jones said the decision of whether to go to school or the pros should be between Bell and his family, but that Bell would do well in either situation.
"He's a true kid that's got the true five tools," Jones said. "Wherever he goes, he's going to be successful."
After Bell, the Pirates went for big bats and big pitchers with picks three through 30. The Pirates drafted 17 more high school students, whom they also may need to lure from heading to college with signing bonuses.
"We're going to be aggressive, and we're going to get as many of these players under contract as is possible," Huntington said in a conference call following the conclusion of Day 2 of the Draft. "We certainly don't have an unlimited resource, but we have one of the best in the game. ... We're expecting to be amongst the leaders again this year."
Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft resumes at noon ET on Wednesday on MLB.com, where fans will receive exclusive coverage of Day 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Pirates selections in Rounds 3-30:
Round 3, 91st overall, 1B, Alex Dickerson: Dickerson was the Big 10 Triple Crown winner in 2010 as a sophomore at Indiana University. He played outfield for the Hoosiers, but the Pirates list him as a first baseman, which he played in high school.
Round 4, 122nd overall, RHP, Colten Brewer: Had a 1.77 ERA and struck out 89 batters in 56 innings this season at Canton High School in Texas. He also had a batting average of .425. He was a four-sport athlete in high school, and has signed with Weatherford Junior College in Texas.
Round 5, 152nd overall, RHP, Tyler Glasnow: A 6-foot-7 pitcher out of Hart High School in California, Glasnow was 8-2 this year with a 1.25 ERA and 99 strikeouts. He earned Foothill League Pitcher of the Year honors, and has accepted a scholarship to the University of Portland.
Round 6, 182nd overall, 3B, Dan Gamache: A junior at Auburn, Gamache is a left-handed batter who hit .299 this season, mainly as the Tigers' designated hitter. Over his three-year career, he batted .337 with a .535 slugging percentage.
Round 7, 212th overall, RHP, Jake Burnette: Part of a state championship team this season at Buford High School in Georgia, Burnett had an 8-0 record and a 1.72 ERA, including six complete games and 80 strikeouts in 57 innings. Committed to play at Georgia Tech.
Round 8, 242nd overall, RHP, Jason Creasy: Creasy's fastball has been clocked in the low 90s. He was named his league's pitcher of the year, as he helped lead Clayton (N.C.) High School to a conference championship. He is committed to North Carolina State.
Round 9, 272nd overall, RHP, Clay Holmes: Holmes had 89 strikeouts in 60 innings in his senior year at Slocomb High School in Alabama. He is ranked the 76th best pitching prospect by Baseball America. He signed a letter of intent to play at Auburn.
Round 10, 302nd overall, CF, Taylor Lewis: A captain at the University of Maine, Lewis batted .288 this year, with 20 stolen bases in 24 attempts. He was named most outstanding player of the America East conference tournament, which Maine won.
Round 11, 332nd overall, CF, Jo-El Bennett-Lowe: Bennett-Lowe batted .523 for Houston Academy in Alabama this season. He has committed to play at Troy.
Round 12, 362nd overall, CF, Candon Myles: Myles batted .495 and stole 45 bases in his senior season for South Grand Prairie (Texas) High School. He also played football, as a wide receiver, and runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash. He is signed to play with Howard University.
Round 13, 392nd overall, RHP, Brandon Platts: Platts was a first-team, all-state selection at Mason City High School in Iowa last season, after finishing 10-0 with a 1.08 ERA. He is signed with the University of Missouri.
Round 14, 422nd overall, OF, Jordan Dunatov: Dunatov batted .492 in his senior season at Horizon High School in Arizona. He earned all-region honors in 2009 and 2010. He is committed to play at Oregon State.
Round 15, 452nd overall, RHP, Kody Watts: Set a single-season record at Skyview High School in Washington with 74 strikeouts as a junior. He is committed to the University of Portland.
Round 16, 482nd overall, LHP, Eric Skoglund: As a junior at Sarasota (Fla.) High School, the 6-foot-6 Skoglund compiled a 22-6 win-loss record. He has recorded an 89-mph fastball. He is committed to Central Florida.
Round 17, 512th overall, RF, Aaron Brown: Brown was 9-2 with a 2.38 ERA and batted .478 for Chatsworth High School in California. He has signed to play at Pepperdine.
Round 18, 542nd overall, LHP, Josh Poytress: A junior at Fresno State, Poytress recorded a 7-3 record and 2.85 ERA this season. He is one of nine Bulldogs to be drafted through the first two days.
Round 19, 572nd overall, RHP, Taylor Nunez: The Times-Picayune named Nunez district player of the year for his 4-2 record and 0.69 ERA at Salmen High School in Louisiana. He is committed to play at Southern Mississippi.
Round 20, 602nd overall, SS, Trea Turner: Turner led his Park Vista (Fla.) Community High team in batting with a .456 average. He has committed to play at North Carolina State.
Round 21, 632nd overall, CF, Alex Fuselier: Had a .308 batting average in his junior season with the Lousiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns. He also led his team in stolen bases with 14.
Round 22, 662nd overall, LHP, Michael Jefferson: A junior at Louisiana Tech, Jefferson was 6-4 this season with a 3.56 ERA.
Round 23, 692nd overall, RHP, Jordan Cooper: This is the second time the Pirates selected Cooper. They drafted him as their 17th-round selection in 2009. As a sophomore at Kentucky this season, he tallied a 3-2 record with a 4.61 ERA.
Round 24, 722nd overall, SS, Brian Sharp: Sharp was a two-time conference player of the year at Calfornia Baptist University. As a junior this season, he led his team with a .352 batting average. He is the program's all-time leader in runs scored (165) and stolen bases (89).
Round 25, 752nd overall, RHP, Josh Martin: A junior at Samford, Martin had a record of 6-2 with a 2.76 ERA this season. He has 133 career strikeouts.
Round 26, 782nd overall, SS, Nicholas Flair: Flair made the all-district team this season after batting .633 for Belle Chasse High School in Louisiana.
Round 27, 812th overall, C, Ryan Hornback: Hornback batted .310 this season at San Jacinto College, and had a fielding percentage of .988. Selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 43rd round of the 2010 draft.
Round 28, 842nd overall, LHP Brandon Zajac: A 6-foot-4, 210-pound prospect from Walker Valley High School in Tennessee, Zajac recorded a 91-mph fastball. Signed to play at Tennessee.
Round 29, 872nd overall, SS Kirk Singer: Played shortstop, second base and third base for Long Beach State as a sophomore, while batting .315. Took a dip in his junior season to a .215 batting average, with 19 walks and 47 strikeouts.
Round 30, 902nd overall, RHP Matt Benedict: Went 2-4 in his senior season at Eastern Carolina with a 4.01 ERA. Led his team in strikeouts with 70. Was named to the all-state team as a junior after finishing with a 3.11 ERA.
Laura Myers is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.