|First-year Orioles general manager Dan Duquette had no history with 25-year-old third base prospect Josh Bell, so he didn’t let sentimentality get in the way when he needed to clear 40-man roster space for waiver claim Luis Exposito, a catcher formerly with the Red Sox. Baltimore designated Bell for assignment on April 17 and subsequently traded him to the Diamondbacks for a player to be named, who on May 12 turned out to be high Class A lefthander Mike Belfiore.
Typically, we don’t detail trades involving DFA’d players, but the fact that Bell and Belfiore were notable prospects as recently as early 2011 makes this a relevant transaction.
|Josh Bell, 3b
Age: 25. Position: 3B (3 G), RF (1 G), 1B (1 G).
Born: Nov. 13, 1986 in Rockford, Ill.
Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 230. Bats: B. Throws: R.
School: Santaluces HS, Lantana, Fla.
Career Transactions: Selected by Dodgers in fourth round of 2005 draft; signed June 17, 2005 … Traded by Dodgers with RHP Steve Johnson to Orioles for LHP George Sherrill, July 30, 2009.
Bell figured into the Orioles’ future plans as recently as last year, but as Baltimore stockpiled third base-eligibles—first Mark Reynolds, then Chris Davis, then Ryan Flaherty, then Wilson Betemit—Bell’s value to the Orioles diminished. They began toying with the idea of having him play first base and right field with Triple-A Norfolk, but he has the most value at the hot corner because he has a plus arm and steady range. A big yard in Norfolk hid some of Bell’s value in 2010-12. He hit 23 homers and put up a .216 isolated power in International League road games, compared with 10 homers and .158 ISO at home. He’s also a switch-hitter in name only because he doesn’t hit with authority from the right side (.212/.295/.332 in 386 plate appearances since 2009), though his performance as lefty batter in that time is strong (.295/.361/.530 in 953 PA).
|Mike Belfiore, lhp
Born: Oct. 3, 1988 in Huntington, N.Y.
Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 220. Bats: R. Throws: L.
School: Boston College.
Career Transactions: Selected by Diamondbacks in supplemental first round (45th overall) of 2009 draft; signed June 19, 2009.
Belfiore topped out near 94 mph as a reliever for Boston College leading up to the 2009 draft, but as a professional starter he sat more 88-90 and got hammered, prompting the Diamondbacks to move him to the bullpen for good last June, whereupon his fortunes improved dramatically. Through eight starts for Visalia last year, Belfiore put up a 7.30 ERA and 33-to-30 strikeout-to-walk ratio, compared with a 4.71 ERA and 46-27 SO-BB ratio in 27 relief appearances. His performance this season—including a suffocating 3-for-20 line with zero extra-base hits allowed to lefties—suggests that the turnaround was for real. Belfiore sits more comfortably in the low 90s in relief, mixing in a quality changeup and an inconsistent slider. If the breaking ball continues to develop he could settle into a situational relief role.