The Cincinnati Reds selected Brantley Bell in the 11th round of the 2015 Major League Baseball draft. He spent his first season in Billings that year, hitting .275/.353/.362. He didn’t homer that year for the Mustangs, but had 16 doubles and 2 triples in 62 games played. His .715 OPS that season was the highest he had over the next four years.

Last year with the Daytona Tortugas there were some things that started to happen in Brantley Bell’s game. He cut down on his strikeouts, going from just over 23% for his career down to 16.7%. And he also hit more home runs for Daytona than he had hit combined in the previous three seasons. His isolated power jumped up to .118, which isn’t exactly jumping off of the page. But it was easily the best of his career, and it also came in a league that suppresses power more than any other league in Minor League Baseball. Fewer strikeouts and more power is usually a good thing.

After his 2018 season in Daytona, the Reds promoted Brantley Bell to Double-A Chattanooga to begin his 2019 season. While he’s only played in 31 games this season so far, he’s done the same thing he did last year: cut down his strikeouts and hit for more power. Except this season the strikeouts are down even more, and the power is up again significantly.

Playing for the Lookouts this season, Bell has come to the plate 122 times. He’s struck out just 12 times – good for a rate of 9.8%. In fact, he’s walked more times than he’s struck out this year, walking 13 times. His walk rate is the best of his career. And his strikeout rate is half the rate that his career has been to this point. The power, too, is making big strides. The second baseman has doubled 7 times and homered another 4 times – giving him an overall line of .264/.355/.443 on the season.

In the last two seasons he, like others around baseball, has put the ball in the air more. From 2015-2017 his ground ball rate was 52%. Over the last two seasons it’s sitting at 38%. Unsurprisingly, more balls in the air has led to more home runs, and more power overall for Brantley Bell.

It’s still early in the season, we’re just over 25% of the way through a minor league campaign, but the 24-year-old son of former big leaguer Jay Bell is showing big signs of improvements in important areas of offensive production. It might be time to start pay a little bit more attention to the second baseman in Chattanooga and how he keeps performing at the plate.

3 Responses

  1. Jim M

    still sucks they are not in Pensacola.. sigh i was so hoping to see the next wave of prospects at the Blue Wahoo Games UGH.. Now i can only watch them one series in August.

    PS What does Cassilli have to do to get in the lineup? Start to NOT hit like Tucker??

  2. MK

    As I recall Bell was the surprise draft pick that none of the national experts even had a scouting report on. All that was known was infielder and Jay Bell’s son. I am sure by reaching AA he has beaten the odds as to where he should have ended up. Great, very friendly kid who just might keep Senzel in the outfield.

  3. RobL

    And despite not striking out, his BA is still poor.

    More flyballs means lower babip. And the major league team is the poster child for this. Votto, Tucker, Puig, Peraza, and Dietrich are all hitting the ball in the air like never before and all have terrible babips. Suarez is right on his normal rate. Winker is actually putting the ball on the ground more. Iglesias has a sky high groundball rate and a high babip.

    But other than Dietrich, the flyball guys have also seen their K rate climb, and thus seeing a double whammy on their BA.

    We keep saying that these guys will even out over the course of the season, but if their approach and swings are different, then we are in new territory, and there won’t be a big rebound.

    The change has helped Brantley and Vanmeter in the minors, but maybe Tucker and Peraza shouldn’t be swinging for the fences. And Votto built a case for the HoF one way. Maybe he will give up this strategy and go back to a more inside out swing.

    But right now, these guys are going to be lucky to be hitting 260 by the end of the season. That’s because fly balls mean low babip. I realize that it also means more homeruns. But don’t look for hitting behind runners or situational hitting. Every at bat is a chance to go yard. As a result, some games you score 12, but more often, you score 1.