Bell heads to Perth Heat in Australia
* Carter Bell (Courtenay, BC) former Parksville Royals and Arizona Diamondbacks minor leaguer will spend the winter with the Perth Heat in th Australian Baseball League ….
By Roberto Angotti
Like Sex and the City starlett Kim Cattrall, Carter Bell grew up in the small Vancouver Island, BC city of Courtenay.
Opting out of the A-Rod spotlight method with the usual Hollywood fanfare and paparazzi, the 22-year-old Bell chose a lower profile means of pursuing his pro career under the radar by playing for the Perth Heat in the Australian Baseball League.
Following the same path as Milwaukee Brewers’ infielder Taylor Green, the six-foot-one Canadian third baseman played high school ball for the Parksville Royals of the British Columbia Premier Baseball League. Upon graduation, Bell was a 22nd-round selection by the San Francisco Giants in the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft but did not sign in favor of accepting a scholarship to play ball for the Oregon State Beavers.
Scouts noticed Bell early on when he donned a Team Canada uniform for the first-time at age 17. Representing his country in far away competitions held in Mexico and Japan as well as on his home turf, the BC All-Star chose the 2006 and 2007 NCAA National Champ Oregon State University program to further develop his craft. The decision was sound as he was selected in the 29th round of the 2011 June amateur draft and signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks following his junior year at OSU.
Hitting .270 in 41 games with eight doubles, two triples, one home run and 17 RBIs, Bell’s pro debut with the 2011 class-A Yakima Bears catapulted him to class-A Visalia Rawhide in 2012. In Cal League play, he batted .259 in 81 games with 11 doubles, one triple, four home runs and 36 RBIs.
The road leading Down Under to the Perth Heat originated back in Oregon, where Bell played for former Perth Heat manager and long-standing Corvallis Knights skipper Brooke Knight after his first year at OSU. In his limited 10 games of 2009 West Coast League action, Bell hit .303 (10-for-33) with three RBIs before suffering a season-ending concussion.
Knight credits his best friend since his college days in playing ball together at Oregon State, Mike Thurman, for pointing him in right direction north of the border to find the Victoria-born Bell, who rapidly rose to prominence in the Comox Valley Association and BC Premier Baseball before playing as a teenager for Team Canada.
Before departing to Australia to assist new Perth Heat skipper Steve Fish in preparing the reigning Australian Champions for next month’s Asia Series against its foreign counterparts from Japan, Taiwan, China and South Korea, Knight explained how Canadian Bell landed Down Under.
“To his credit, Carter took the initiative to call me and express his initial desire to play for the Perth Heat. He still considers it a privilege to take on this challenge. I told him it was the perfect winter league for him to get his body ready for spring because the ABL offers something that cannot be found anywhere else. The atmosphere and structure keeps players healthy because the league emphasizes safety first by limiting play to four games a week, which allows you to rest your body and properly heal.”
Knight also read Bell the disclaimer and warned him of the Aussie side effects:
“I told him that Australia was culturally different as well and when it gets hot in December one can get homesick real fast and start crying out for girlfriends.”
Knight feels blessed to have had the opportunity to coach such fine players as Bell in Perth and Corvallis.
“With guidance, I have luckily ended up with the right kids. Carter is a solid player. I’m waiting for him to breakout. He’s got gap power and can hit the ball well the other way. His power numbers will bump up as they did for import Adam Melker, a St. Louis Cardinals prospect.”
Melker was Carter’s teammate on Knight’s 2009 Corvallis Knights. They will reunite under Knight’s leadership on the Heat in the upcoming Asia Series on Nov. 8-11 in Busan, South Korea.
Melker hit 10 home runs for Double-A Springfield in 2012 as compared to none in 2011. Knight believes in Bell, saying: “He’s got a chance to make a difference. Carter has good range and can play the corners, not to mention he’s a Team Canada All-Star shortstop.”