The 38 year old Bell, in his third season as the director of player development for the Arizona Diamondbacks jerseys, maps the path from beginning to Big Leagues for 250 farmhands.
He has plowed those fields himself. Third generation baseball guy. First round draft choice (Texas) in 1993 as a third baseman. About a dozen seasons bouncing around the minors. Two months in The Show. A stint as a coach and manager in the minors.
Bell regularly spreads himself around the Diamondback affiliates, usually five cheap mlb jerseys china days at a time. During his visit to South Bend on Monday, Bell got an up close and personal look at Drury (.320 batting average, Midwest League leading 41 doubles), the Silver Hawks’ third baseman.
“The players are a lot better,” Bell said, comparing his era as a player to the present day. “The players seem to be more talented. Look at cheap Brandon Drury jersey. We were both similar type (draft) picks (Drury was Atlanta’s 13th round pick in 2010).
“I’m thinking, ‘Man, this guy is way, way better than I was.’ Physical strength; quickness; he’s a lot more advanced than I was in ’95 playing in (Class) A ball.”
Bell was drafted out of Cincinnati Moeller High. His grandfather Gus Bell and father Buddy provided a legacy of Big League memories that fueled Mike’s desire to compete and excel.
“Growing up, (baseball) was just my dad’s job,” Mike said of Buddy’s time with the Cincinnati Reds jerseys. “I was fortunate that my dad liked to take me to work and I got to meet his co workers.”
More opportunity than pressure potential.
“You sign that first professional contract; it’s the only thing you ever wanted to do,” Bell said. “Then you say, ‘Wow, this isn’t high school baseball anymore.’ What happens if this doesn’t work out? I don’t think that creeps into everybody’s mind, but it did mine. It got the best of me. That was the pressure I felt.
“What if (baseball) isn’t my life?”
That’s where education comes in. At 31, with the dream of a big money Big League payday all but evaporated, Bell started on Plan B. While managing in the minors, he began a University of Phoenix online program that took five plus years but yielded a management degree two years ago.
“I didn’t want to be trapped where I had to coach if I didn’t want to,” Bell said. “I couldn’t go get another job if I wanted to.”
The job he has now appeals to him. He oversees 10 Diamondback affiliates that have been molded in the same personality and attitude tough and focused on victory as the Major League leadership (general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson).
Winning is the primary ambition from Phoenix to Missoula. South Bend and Mobile (Class AA) earned postseason spots with first half success. Visalia (high Class A) has a three game edge in its second half wild card race.
Bell said Silver Hawks fans shouldn’t expect already promoted players to be returned to South Bend for the September playoffs. Rather, promotion is the normal plan.
A day before the Major League trade deadline, Bell doesn’t publicly concern himself with the Big League issues. He’s focused on developing the talent he’s given the Diamondback Way. Tough, with character counting.
He knows what those young men, some fresh out of high school, are facing. Though, he picks his approach carefully.
“It was challenging,” Bell said of his baseball struggles. “I don’t think I ever got out of my body what I was capable of. On a daily basis, I beat myself up in the mental grind. It was difficult for me, more the mental side than the physical side.
“I wouldn’t change it for the world. It helped me become more compassionate to the struggles that these guys go through.
“I try not to say: ‘I understand; I’ve been there; I know what you’re going through.’ I remember people telling me that and thinking, ‘You have no idea how bad I’m feeling right now.’