Brantley Bell was off and running pretty quickly for Ole Miss.
He had a walk-off winner on March 7 for Mississippi and played a prominent role as the Running Rebels as they qualified for the College World Series for the first time since 1972.
“This year has gone better than I had imagined,” Bell said. “I certainly got a lot more playing time than I expected to have as a freshman and I was given a great role where the team relied on me to come through.”
Bell has appeared in 42 games, often as a pinch-hitter or late inning replacement, and has had 22 starts. Overall, he has hit .307 (31 for 101) with 16 runs, six doubles and 11 RBIs.
“I've matured as a player and a person because I am constantly surrounded by a great group of teammates here at Ole Miss,” he said. “Getting this much experience as a freshman has fully prepared for the rest of college baseball career.”
Bell got off to a hot start – he led the team in hitting at .422 after his first 45 at-bats spread over 17 appearances – but hit .226 during Southeastern Conference action.
Now, he will possibly get some formative at-bats in college baseball’s premier event.
“The majority of college baseball players will never get this opportunity and I'm thrilled to just be a part of the experience,” he said.
Of course Bell has been around the game since the day he was born as his father, Jay, spent 18 years in the big leagues – making his debut with my Cleveland Indians with a home run on the first pitch he ever saw in the majors and finishing up with the Diamondbacks.
Brantley is experienced beyond his baseball years simply by being around a big-league clubhouse for so long.
“I modeled my game after his,” he told Scout.com of his father’s influence. “I’m really a visual learner. Every time I’m back home, he’ll get out there and demonstrate things, not really critique on the physical game but more of the mental game. Keeping solid approaches and getting new ideas in your head to see what works for you.”
Clearly something is working for Bell, and it will be fun to see him develop the next few years – including this weekend’s broadcast of the CWS - before getting a chance to possibly play pro ball just like dad in a few years.
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.