Though in possession of a resume that includes 20 television commercials by his estimation, Bell was not acting when he called his future employers by their new name. He just figured it was the right thing to do.
Bell was drafted in the supplemental round as compensation for the Angels having lost free agent Troy Percival to the Detroit Tigers. The Angels did not have a first-round selection this season, sending that pick to the Boston Red Sox as compensation for signing free agent shortstop Orlando Cabrera this past offseason. The Red Sox used the 23rd choice in the draft to take Jacoby Ellsbury, a center fielder from Oregon State.
Bell, a 6-foot-2, 180-pounder, went 8-3 with an 0.97 ERA, 113 strikeouts and 11 walks for the Falcons during his senior season. Bell also hit .367 with eight homers and 20 RBIs. Though he is a possible two-way threat, Bell is ready to accept his future as a pitcher.
"I like hitting and I love pitching," Bell said on a conference call. "Pitching is totally fine with me. It might be hard to give up hitting, but I can deal with that."
The 18-year-old helped Crescenta Valley to a CIF Southern Section Pacific League title and was named MVP, the third time in his four-year high school career he won the award . Bell was also named as a third-team member of the High School Preseason All-America team by Baseball America
as a left-handed-hitting designated hitter.
Bell holds school career records for wins (24), strikeouts (317) and home runs (26) -- numbers that equated to a first pick by the Angels, who feel he is ready for the next step.
The Angels liked "his presence on the mound, his aggressiveness and he has a fine arm," director of scouting Eddie Bane said. "He has a fastball that can reach 95-96 mph, a Major League curve and was a prospect as a hitter. He would have been a solid prospect as a hitter. He is definitely drafted as a pitcher. He's got good stuff."
Bell's fastball was rated as fourth best among high school pitchers by Baseball America
Taken as a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds, Bell had a bit of time to kill Tuesday morning. His immediate family was with him, but cousins and friends began to gather, so by the time his name was called by the Angels, he had a bit of a crowd.
"This morning I woke up and I was nervous," Bell said. "We were sitting by the computer, waiting and listening on MLB.com."
Bell heard some familiar names taken and figured it was a good sign. Then he was drafted by the Angels and emotions hit a high pitch.
"I was speechless; I had nothing to say. I was crying. My mom was crying," Bell said. "It was just a big deal and absolutely was an unbelievable day for me."
Bell, who was born Oct. 12, 1986, said he's been an Angels fan his entire life, even though the Dodgers are also close by. His birth date coincidentally is the same day the Red Sox rallied in Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS to send the series back to Boston, where they won in seven games. But Bell takes that as a good omen.
A better omen for the Angels is Bell's attitude about his future. He has some collegiate irons in the fire at USC, Arizona State and San Diego State in case the draft did not go as hoped, but no actual scholarship offers. Bell said he and his advisers will talk with the Angels over the next few days, but he has one thing on his mind.
"I want to get out there and start pitching as soon as possible," Bell said, who spoke with Bane during his pre-draft workout at Angel Stadium and said he got a good vibe from the club.
Bell began acting in commercials as a child and estimated he did seven Hot Wheels spots when he was 8 years old. He also did some work in Kelloggs and Stride Rite commercials, and last summer Bell was in two Old Navy commercials as a non-speaking extra.
"Those were a lot of fun," Bell said of the Old Navy ads. "They took me to Palm Springs and put us up in a hotel."
Bell was one of just 36 players in the nation invited to participate in the national All-American baseball game (to be held Monday in Albuquerque, N.M.). As a junior, Bell was 4-4 with a 1.48 ERA with four walks and 97 strikeouts. He batted .465 with five doubles, two triples, eight home runs and 30 RBIs in 17 games and was named to the All-CIF Southern Section First Team.