The Pittsburgh Pirates have finally seen enough of John Jaso’s struggles and have called switch-hitting first baseman Josh Bell up from triple-A. Jon Heyman had the story first. This is the second prominent youngster the Bucs have turned to in two days, as Tyler Glasnow made his Major League Debut yesterday.
Bell is 23 and has long been on the radar of prospect hounds for his excellent approach, quick bat, and extra-base power. Not a traditional slugger, Bell has still managed to be exceptional at every level in his development while advancing steadily through the Pirates organization. He was hitting .324/.407/.535 with 41 walks, 53 strikeouts, and 13 homers so far this year.
Originally drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft as an outfielder, he transitioned to first base full time last year. He still struggles around the base, with 10 errors this year alone, while no Major League first baseman has more than seven. Still, Bell’s performance at the plate should more than make up for his deficiencies.
The Pirates have been very hot lately, winning seven of their last eight, and 10 of their last 13, to rise to two games over .500. They’re still in contention for a wild card spot, and could use every boost they can get. That apparently includes marginalizing the veteran Jaso, who has hit just .216/.324/.307 with a single homer since the start of June. Jaso can’t play any other positions, so he may still get some starts at first, and be the first option off the bench for Pittsburgh, if he’s not traded. Now, if they can just get Andrew McCutchen and Francisco Liriano untracked, they could definitely be the team to watch in the second half of the season.