The San Diego Padres are still looking to make a splash in the international market. The team has had interest in several notable players but has yet sign anyone. Cuban outfielder Alexei Bell has drawn interest from A.J. Preller and the Padres and he could sign somewhere fairly soon.
The stocky outfielder swings a good bat but at the age of 32, he is not considered a young prospect by any means. In fact some scouts have indicated he has lost a little bit from when he was once considered one of the best Cuban ball players. It remains to be seen if that is the case, but Bell is an interesting option none the less.
Alexei Bell has never hit lower than third in a lineup during his professional and international league play. All that while playing with the likes of Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu and Yoenis Cespedes during his career. The Padres are interested in him and Jeff Sanders of the UT gives us a look at the Cuban outfielder.
— Jeff Sanders (@sdutSanders) February 16, 2016
The rare combination of power and speed is what Bell posses and he also is blessed with a rocket arm. Some scouts compared him to a slightly smaller version of Raul Mondesi. Bell has a great arm and generates a ton of power from his smaller frame. He is listed as 5′ 7″ and 187 lbs.
He has an arm that is reportedly equivalent to Yasiel Puig and Bell is very accurate to boot. He has played mostly right field but has spent some time in center field too. At this point his chances of playing center field are minimal at best, but he does have the athletic ability to play the position if needed.
In 14 years and over 2,900 at bats Bell has produced some very interesting numbers. He has a batting line of .319/.417/.547 with 138 home runs and 632 RBIs. He has also stolen 121 bases in his career. The most impressive stat is the fact he has struck out only 439 times in those 2,900 at bats while walking 431 times. He is a disciplined hitter and typically does not give away at bats.
Since he was 18, Bell dreamed of playing in the United States and playing in the major leagues. He always wanted to play here but refused to defect from his country. He was awarded an opportunity by the country of Cuba to play major league baseball, so all he needs now is a team willing to give him a shot.
Has the 32-year-old waited too long though? He has a very nice track record and could with a little luck, make a fairly quick adjustment to playing in the states. His bat seems to dignify he be given an opportunity. Some team will do just that, and perhaps the outfielder can surprise some people.
The Padres could be players in signing Bell, but the team would clearly like to wait until the next signing period begins on July 2nd. Bell has waited long enough and the fact he is 32 and pretty much ready for service, leads you to believe Bell will sign elsewhere.
The Padres are more likely looking for younger Cuban players, rather than a veteran who may have passed his prime. Not to say Bell cannot be productive, but he would need to be included on a team that is a correct fit for him. The Cuban market is heating up and the Padres will surely be players eventually. We will see where A.J. Preller makes his first strike.