We’re well into July now and the trade deadline is right around the corner. The Orioles’ figure to move several pieces between now and then, with Ty Wigginton and Miguel Tejada getting the most face time on the trade rumor circuit. Whether or not they get moved within the next two weeks or during the August waiver period is a different story all together, but once those two are gone, the path will be clear for top prospect Josh Bell to get regular playing time for the O’s.
Bell was up with Baltimore earlier this month (a clean .200/.200/.200 batting line in 15 PA) before going back down to Triple-A to get some at-bats during the All Star break. He’s back now, but has mostly ridden the bench as the vets get showcased for their (eventual) new teams. Acquired in the George Sherrill deal, Baseball America ranked Bell as the team’s second best prospect before this season.
“[Bell] has above-average power and a good approach,” said BA’s write-up, “showing the ability to work counts to get on base.” His minor league track record backs it up; His career ISO above A-ball is a hefty .209 in 827 plate appearances. Despite being a switch-hitter, Bell has a considerable platoon split (.687 OPS vs. LHP, .875 vs. RHP), enough to garner whispers about becoming a full-time lefthanded hitter. Considering some of the power lefthanded starters in the AL East, that may not be such a good thing.
I’m not sure Bell has much to offer your team during the remainder of this season, so his value is primary tied up in keeper leagues. There’s enough power in his bat that 20 homers over a full season is very possible as soon as 2011, though he might not bring such a high average right away. The one thing he will be assured of in the future is playing time, with the O’s in full rebuild mode and Bell representing one of their core pieces. If Wigginton and Tejada get moved sooner rather than later, the O’s and fantasy owners alike will get a sneak preview the rest of the way.