by TREY WILSON
CURVE, Pa. – For the second straight year, Altoona Curve first baseman Josh Bell was selected to participate in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. This year’s edition was played on July 12 at Great American Ballpark, home of the Cincinnati Reds, as part of Major League Baseball’s All-Star festivities.
Every year, baseball’s top Minor League prospects get a chance to gather in an MLB setting, which can serve as a preview of their own future.
“It’s awesome,” Bell said. “The big-league experience, playing in front of 40,000 fans, just the lifestyle for that one day gives you a little taste and keeps the fuel in that fire. Helps you know what you’re striving for.”
Bell suited up for the United States, which went on to defeat the World team, 10-1. He was joined by Curve manager Tom Prince, who served on the U.S. staff and coached first base.
Prince credited his players and their performance this season for the selections.
“I was very honored,” Prince said. “Like I told the guys, it was because of them that we got that opportunity and I got that opportunity. The way they play and the way they go about their business.”
“It’s a testament to him,” Bell said. “He’s an incredible man and an incredible person. It’s great that he was able to represent the Pirates as well.”
The Futures Game has gained a reputation for showcasing the next big stars of Major League Baseball before they reach the top level. It also presents a chance for those players to square off alongside and against the best players from across the minors.
“I think it’s a measuring stick for those guys,” Prince said. “The one thing that stood out to me was the size of the guys that I saw, their athletic ability, the way they hit the ball in B.P. Yeah, we have people that do it, there’s no question about it. But it was every guy that was there. And that was the biggest thing that stood out.”
Bell turned some heads, crushing a two-run homer to right-center field in the fourth inning to give the U.S. a 5-1 lead over the World, the only home run hit in the game.
“It was an awesome experience,” Bell said. “It was one of those swings that right off the bat you know it’s got a chance to get out of the ballpark.”
Bell has hit home runs before. This particular one was part of an exhibition game. It did not count towards season stats.
However, this particular exhibition game was played in front of a crowd of more than 43,000 fans in a Major League ballpark and aired on national television. This particular home run was hit in a game featuring some of the most promising prospects in baseball and in an event that is regarded as the introduction of future household names.
“It wasn’t a little moment,” Prince said. “It was a huge stepping stone for the young man.
“For him to do it in that moment, on that stage, in front of those people and against that competition, it was special. Everybody else had the same opportunity.”
But no one else stepped up and hit one out of the ballpark.
“The first person I look at is Princey over at first base and he’s congratulating me,” Bell said. “The fireworks started going off and the crowd erupts, and it was just an incredible experience.”
Bell was the 17th player to represent the Curve in the Futures Game since the inaugural season of the franchise in 1999. Some of the previous participants include names like Gerrit Cole, Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte, Pedro Alvarez and Jose Bautista.
In Bell’s turn, he stole the show.
“He was a big leaguer that day,” Prince said. “And he’s going to be one down the road.
Video of Bell’s Futures Game home run
Interview with MLB Network
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