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2011 MLB Draft Prospects Preview -- Josh Bell

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With the 2011 major league draft kicking off on Monday, I want to highlight in the next few days a few of the players that the Texas Rangers could be looking at with their picks at #33 and #37.  This would be a lot easier if the Rangers were picking, say, 5th -- given how late the Rangers' choices are, it wouldn't surprise me if none of the players I talk about in the next few days end up going to Texas.  Still, we'll take a look at a few of the intriguing names...

One player who has a lot of buzz right now is Dallas Jesuit outfielder Josh Bell.  A switch-hitter with power, Baseball America ranks Bell as the #15 draft prospect in the nation.  While Bell profiles as a corner outfielder rather than a centerfielder, his bat is promising enough that he's viewed as a potential middle-of-the-order hitter down the line.

So why would he be on the board at #33 (or #37)?  A couple of reasons.  First of all, Bell has sent a letter to the MLB Scouting Bureau, telling teams not to draft him because he intends to go to the University of Texas.

Secondly, and more importantly, is money.  The bonus Bell wants to forego his UT scholarship is reportedly astronomical -- Keith Law says in a chat session today that he's hearing Detroit and Boston as the teams with the most interest in Bell, with rumors of a $6 million deal with Detroit being in play.  And Bell is a Boras client, which means that negotiations will be difficult and protracted.

A lot of this pre-draft talk is a game of liar's poker, particularly with a player who has leverage and who may have an interest in scaring off teams that won't pay or that aren't viewed as attractive destinations, or as a way of flushing out a team who might be actually be willing to meet the hefty price tag.  If Bell is still on the board when the Rangers pick, you have to think the Rangers are going to be tempted, particularly given that he's a local kid.  If Texas does pass on him -- particularly at both 33 and 37 -- you have to imagine it is because they believe that he and his family are adamant about their demands, and that he's simply not worth paying that sort of money to, compared to the other options out there.