Before I get started, I love this draft. I wanted Rendon over Cole, but, like Charlie said, if so many teams passed on him, something must be up with the shoulder (or at least something serious appeared to be up).
The early national returns seem to be that Pittsburgh got amazing value drafting Josh Bell in the 2nd round; on the caveat "if they can sign him". I'm surprised that the Pirate fansites either seem to be bagging the pick or the fact that the Pirates didn't take another overslot bonus baby on Day 2 in case Bell does go to Texas.
I don't believe that the entire draft hinges on whether or not the front office can sign Bell. I think it'd be an impressive feather in Pittsburgh's draft hat, but it's still a solid draft (barring a freakish series of events where none of the high picks get signed). Now that I've buried the lead: I think that drafting Josh Bell in the 2nd round is employing the same strategy that Pittsburgh employed in 2008. Cole will be a super bonus baby like Alvarez was and Bell will go down to the deadline like Scheppers did. Tanner Scheppers' health his concern; in the end, the organization decided that he wasn't worth the money. With Bell, it's signability. His mother has vehemently claimed that he's going to college. Dr. Myrtle Bell is a human resource management professor (irony couldn't be thicker) at UT-Arlington; how does she (especially with her educator's salary) not realize that it's just prudent business to take life-altering major pro sports money when it's available to you? I'm sure guys like Brien Taylor, Matt Bush, and Willis McGahee will attest to the bird in the hand. There's no guarantee that he'll develop into the #1 overall pick in 2014 or that he won't suffer a major injury in that time. With MLB pushing for a regimented slotting system for the amateur draft similar to the NBA's, Bell might not be able to make more as a top pick in that hypothetical future draft than he could make this year. I believe that his letter to the MLB Scouting Bureau is nothing more than posturing.
Josh Bell is being advised by Scott Boras: I think this is even more proof that he intends to sign. Boras is the best agent in MLB, but his tactics are predictable: he'll go to the deadline, he'll drum up false ravenous interest in his client, he'll walk away at least once and claim that "Bell is definitely going to Texas", and, finally, his client will sign. Boras is like buying the name brand at the store: the generic may be nearly as good, but you'll pay the markup for the branding. Huntington has shown that he's not afraid to deal with Boras... I think it's just that he knows that Boras will get maximum value before eventually signing.
The Pirates were fearless with Scheppers in 2008: they walked away when they objectively decided that his risk wasn't worth the financial investment. They got the comp pick when they failed to sign him and took Victor Black in 2009 (who, not surprisingly, is a 6'4 pitcher). They are simply following that gameplan in 2011: if they decide in mid-August that Bell's/Boras' contract demands aren't worth his (considerable) raw talent, they'll let him go to Texas and get another tall pitcher next year.
P.S. - McCutch: PLEASE do something on the draft... preferably a pick-by-pick analysis for the Pirates selections. It'd be a shame to waste the research you've done this year (or it would just suck to do all that research myself)!!!