Indians' Bell hits for cycle to cap big night

Pirates No. 3 prospect finishes off five-RBI effort with triple in ninth

Josh Bell is 10-for-27 with two homers and 10 RBIs during a six-game hitting streak. (Jae Ho Kim/Louisville Bats)

By Robert Emrich / MiLB.com | April 23, 2016 12:08 AM

Josh Bell certainly has a flair for the dramatic.

The Pirates' No. 3 prospect tripled in his final at-bat Friday night to complete the cycle as Triple-A Indianapolis rolled to a 13-1 romp at Louisville.

Bell reached base in five of six plate appearances, singling home Alen Hanson in the first inning and doubling to open the third. He put a cap on the Indians' eight-run inning by launching a grand slam, giving him five RBIs in a game for the third time in his Minor League career.

After grounding into a double play in the fifth and walking in the seventh, the 23-year-old first baseman was at the plate with two outs and no one on in the ninth.

"It was one of those things that it was in the back of my mind, but at the same time, you're just looking for a pitch to drive," Bell said. "It's pretty much the same mindset I had in my other at-bats -- try to see something up in the zone -- and I was able to get that pitch and drive it to the right-center gap. Right out of the box, I was thinking three and I ended up sliding in safe. It was a pretty awesome moment for me."

Bell became the player in team history to hit for the cycle and the first since Jeff Clement on June 2, 2012. It also was the first in the International League this season.

"It was a good night," MLB.com's No. 47 overall prospect said. "It was one of those nights where it seemed like I could take my approach into the game. They had a lefty starting, ended up hitting a nestle over the first baseman's head. And for my double, I hit like a two-hopper off the bag at third base. I hit two other balls hard and ended up with a cycle at the end of the night."

The grand slam was the third homer of the season for the 2011 second-round pick. Last season with Double-A Altoona, Bell did not hit his third home run until June 10, finishing the season with nine in 131 games between the Curve and Indians.

"[Hitting coach] Butch Wynegar and Larry Sutton sat me down and we talked about the type of player I want to be," Bell said. "There are certain instances in the past where I was a try-not-to strike out guy, even if I got into a 2-0 count. Now I'm just trusting my hand-eye coordination and my barrel control. So when I get into those counts with runners on, I try to do some damage instead of flop the ball around.

"Just being a first baseman, I know I have average in my back pocket. I know I can be a .300-plus hitter. For me, maximizing my potential, I think I can be that .300 hitter with an impressive number of RBIs and the home runs that come with it. I'm trying to stick with the no-fear mentality in the box; instead of trying to touch the ball, crush the ball."

Adam Frazier contributed four hits of the Indians' 18 hits and scored twice, while Ed Easley drove in three runs.

Pirates No. 17 prospect Steven Brault (1-1) allowed an unearned run on two hits while fanning nine over five innings to earn his first Triple-A win.

Reds No. 5 prospect Jose Peraza reached base twice, stole a base and scored the Bats' lone run.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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