The Pirates recalled top first base prospect Josh Bell over the weekend, and he’ll have a larger role than he had in his brief initial call-up earlier this season (three brilliant pinch-hit plate appearances), GM Neal Huntington tells Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We brought Josh up to play a decent amount,” said Huntington of the 24-year-old Bell, who has batted a .295/.382/.468 with 14 homers in 114 Triple-A games this season. Bell’s prospect pedigree and strong minor league production, paired with a .167/.306/.250 second half from John Jaso, could well pave the way to everyday at-bats (or something close to it) down the stretch. If he can prove himself to be a consistent hitter in the Majors and one capable of playing a passable first base — Huntington tells Brink that Bell’s defense will “continue to be a work in progress” — Bell could unseat Jaso and lead the team to shop the veteran (and his two-year, $8MM contract) over the winter.
A bit more from the NL Central…
- Reds manager Bryan Price tells MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Jose Peraza could remain with the team for the rest of the year even if Zack Cozart returns quickly from a minor Achilles injury, but he stopped short of committing to the notion of Peraza sticking in the Majors through the end of the Triple-A season on Sept. 5. As Sheldon notes, Peraza was scarcely used when he spent a month and a half in the Majors earlier this summer, but he’s had a pair of multi-hit games since being recalled to fill in for Cozart at shortstop and could get looks at second base, in left field and in center field over the course of September in an effort to see what he can do with consistent playing time against MLB pitching. It would be somewhat strange for the Reds not to work him into the lineup as much as possible in order to get a better evaluation of Peraza, especially considering the fact that he can be deployed at a number of positions.
- Having watched Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman and Andrew Benintendi go from the 2015 draft to the Majors less than a year later, Reds third base prospect Nick Senzel said on the MLBPipeline.com podcast that he hopes for a similarly quick ascent (also via Sheldon). Senzel, the No. 2 overall pick in this season’s draft, is hitting .309/.400/.545 with seven homers in 46 games with Class-A Dayton. He hasn’t been moved quite as aggressively as Bregman, who played at Class-A Advanced during his debut season, but neither Swanson nor Benintendi topped Class-A last season and both still made it to the bigs this year. “You look at those guys … get there their first full year, as a player and a college hitter that makes you hungry to get up there,” said Senzel.
- Brewers left-hander Chris Capuano isn’t likely to return to the team in 2016, GM David Stearns tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The 38-year-old has been sidelined by an elbow injury since late May, and a platelet-rich plasma treatment hasn’t sped along his recovery as much as had been hoped. Stearns notes that Capuano “is still very motivated to make it back and continue his career,” so it sounds as if there’s a good chance he’ll aim to return in 2017 if he can’t do so at the tail end of the present season.
- Another Brewers southpaw, Sean Nolin, recently underwent Tommy John surgery after trying to stave off the procedure, Haudricourt further reports. He, too, tried a PRP treatment but did not improve enough to avoid a UCL replacement. Milwaukee outfielder Rymer Liriano, meanwhile, has faced slow going after being struck by a pitch in the face this spring. Though he has now begun baseball activities, Liriano won’t be able to make it to the majors this year. Instead, says Stearns, he may be able to participate in fall instructional league action.