During his junior season, Dallas (Texas) Jesuit Collegiate Prep star outfielder Josh Bell lost the final game of the year, and the all-important summer national tryouts and showcases, to a cracked left kneecap during the Class 5A state playoffs. Despite that lost exposure, Bell has emerged as a legitimate MLB draft talent -- he's ranked No. 9 overall among RivalsHigh's top prep baseball prospects, with RivalsHigh projecting him as the No. 18 draft pick in the forthcoming MLB draft -- with the athleticism and work ethic to land a major signing bonus … if he is willing to turn down the chance to play for perennial collegiate baseball power Texas.
Yet, despite the sudden accolades for Bell's immense power -- he's a switch hitting, athletic center fielder who has home run power from both sides of the plate -- those features may belie his best attribute: Fearless courage.
According to the Dallas Morning News, after cracking his kneecap, Bell begged the Jesuit coaching staff to let him hit, even though he couldn't run.
"I could still swing," Bell told the Morning News' Matt Wixon. "I told my coach I wouldn't run unless I hit a home run."
Amazingly, that might be a fairly convincing argument. Bell finished his abbreviated 2010 campaign with 11 home runs, and he has already knocked out nine in just 56 at-bats in 2011. As it turns out, the Rangers could have used Bell's power, too; they fell 4-1 to Plano (Texas) West High in the regional quarterfinals, the only game the team played without Bell in the lineup.
"It was probably the hardest thing to do, to watch my team go down like that," Bell told ESPN Rise.
There's little question that Bell has completely recovered from his injury, and has added some extra pop in his bat in the process. According to ESPN Rise, Bell was a whopping 7-for-11 at the World Wood Bat Association 18-Under World Championship in fall 2010. Those hits included two doubles and a homer, and accounted for 11 RBI, all against some of the top pitching prospects in the country. You can see video of Bell at the WWBA above.
So, what can Bell do with his strength and tenacity when he isn't injured? Texas coaches may be about to find out, much to their chagrin.
One of those coaches is Seguin (Texas) High coach Doug Pearce, who was coaching Pflugerville (Texas) Connolly High when his team faced Bell's Jesuit team in 2010. After Bell smashed two left-handed home runs in his first two at-bats, Pearce called in a lefty reliever to neutralize his bat … only to watch Bell warm up with right-handed swings.
"I turned to my assistant and said, 'My God, he's a switch hitter,'" Pearce told ESPN Rise.
"It's one of those games I'll definitely remember, and I'll definitely remember his name."