MANCHESTER, N.H. — After sharing an outfield with Jacoby Ellsbury for two years, Red Sox farmhand Jeff Corsaletti has a feel for what makes a talented outfielder.
"Bubba (Bell) is a great guy and a very hard worker," said Corsaletti. "He just always produces. Everyone in this outfield could be headed to the big leagues."
Those attending the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game yesterday may have been treated to a preview of the American League East's next crop of star outfielders in the Yankees' top prospect Austin Jackson, the Blue Jays' No. 1 prospect Travis Snider and Red Sox minor leaguers Corsaletti and Bell.
Of the budding stars, Bell is the most surprising. He attracted attention for little more than his unique first name when he was selected in the 39th round out of Nicholls (La.) State in 2005.
"It was a lot of motivation for me," he said. "I had to work really hard. Especially now in the upper levels. A lot of people have been ahead of me."
But Bell has let his play do the talking. He exploded onto the scene with the Lowell Spinners in 2006, hitting .492 (39 for 91) with nine doubles and 13 RBIs. That earned him a promotion to high Single-A Greenville.
"Any time you can get off to a good start and establish yourself, you'll be on peoples' minds," he said. "I turned a few heads, and it also gave me a boost in confidence."
He continued his breakout last season when he hit an eye-popping .370 with 22 home runs for Single-A Lancaster.
Now the center fielder for the Portland Sea Dogs, the 25-year-old is hitting .286 with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs.
His teammate in Portland, Corsaletti, came to the Red Sox organization with considerably more hype. As a senior at the University of Florida, he hit .358 with 10 home runs to lead the Gators to the College World Series title game.