The State College of Florida began the third day of the 2015 MLB Draft with a handful of players still expected to be selected. Only 15 picks into the day, infielder Brantley Bell became the first off the board.
A day after the Reds selected SCF shortstop Mitch Piatnik in the eighth round, Cincinnati grabbed another Manatee shortstop in the 11th round with the 325th overall selection.
The Reds' senior director of scouting Chris Buckley has a son, Kevin Buckley, who is a rising sophomore for State College of Florida and he frequently attended games this past season where he was able to get a close look at Piatnik and Bell, who is the son of current Reds bench coach and former Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jay Bell.
"They like our guys," head coach Tim Hill II said. "At the same time, there were a lot of clubs that were interested in those guys."
Bell, who recently completed his sophomore season, batted .325 with three home runs and 13 steals during his lone season in Bradenton, and his 41 RBI ranked second on the team. Before arriving at SCF, Bell spent one season at Mississippi, where he batted .304 in limited action as a freshman.
However, defense was an adventure for him in Oxford. He didn't play the field often at Ole Miss and in limited action he had a woeful .892 fielding percentage. With the Manatees, he primarily played second base and when Piatnik was injured he got reps at short, which Hill said helped boost his draft status. His fielding percentage jolted to .953 as a sophomore, and at 6 feet, 3 inches and 185 pounds he has the size to be an intriguing major league shortstop prospect.
"We didn't miss a beat when Piatnik was hurt for a little bit," Hill said. "I just think they saw he has an approach at the plate that his body's going to fill out and get better."