Alexei Bell Quintero
(El Cañón del Caney)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 8", Weight 187 lb.
Alexei Bell emerged as a top Cuban slugger in 2007-2008 but struggled the next year.
Bell debuted with the Santiago de Cuba Wasps in the 2001-2002 Serie Nacional, hitting .200/.286/.220 only. In 2002-2003, the outfielder batted .237/.318/.355. Bell began hitting well during the 2003-2004 campaign, with a .283/.337/.415 batting line.
In 2004-2005, Bell hit 12 home runs in 65 games and batted .321/.385/.570, continuing to develop. The 21-year-old set up the winning run in the final game of the playoffs with a fly ball to put Héctor Olivera Jr. on third.
Bell hit .322/.401/.523 in 2005-2006 and .355/.450/.544 in 2006-2007. In 2006-2007, he drove in 60 runs in 85 games and was hit by 14 pitches. He scored 75 runs, third in the Serie Nacional, four behind leader Yohenis Cespedes. He tied for 8th in doubles (22), tied for 5th in times hit by pitch, tied Jorge Padron for 6th in batting average and was 4th in slugging percentage. He hit .318 and slugged .636 in the playoffs.
Bell hit .357/~.379/.429 for Cuba in the 2007 World Port Tournament as a member of the "B" national team.
Thanks in part to a new high-octane baseball (the Mizuno 150 from Japan), Bell burst off to an amazing start in 2007-2008, hitting 17 home runs by the half and on pace to challenge the single-season home run record. In the 2008 All-Star Game, he smashed a 3-run first-inning homer off of ERA leader Yulieski González. He kept up his excellence in the second half, setting new league home run and RBI records; Orestes Kindelan had held the record for Cuban leagues (30) and Joan Carlos Pedroso had held the record for a Serie Nacional (28). Bell finished the year with a .355/.453/.722 batting line. He led the league in runs (96), homers (31, 5 ahead of Yohenis Céspedes), total bases (252, 22 ahead of Alfredo Despaigne), RBI (31 ahead of Rolando Meriño) and slugging. He tied for 4th in triples (7), was second in steals (25, trailing José Julio Ruíz) while only being caught stealing four times, was 10th in walks (59) and just missed the top ten in average. He was second in hits, as his 124 were two less than Ruiz. In the playoffs, Bell set a record with three hits in one inning in the semifinals against Villa Clara. In game four of the Santiago de Cuba sweep of the finals, Bell drove in the winning run with a single off of legendary Pedro Luis Lazo to score Hector Olivera Jr. Bell won the Serie Nacional Most Valuable Player award unanimously and also won a Gold Glove. Bell's home run record only lasted one year before it was broken by Alfredo Despaigne.
Bell was the star of the 2008 Olympics, hitting .500/.556/1.031 with 3 doubles, 4 triples, 2 home runs, 10 runs and 10 RBI in 9 games; the lone negative was two errors in right field. He tripled, doubled and scored twice against Yu Darvish when Cuba beat Japan. He was 4 for 5 with 3 RBI in a victory over the Dutch national team. Bell cracked a 3-run shot off of Jeff Stevens in a 10-2 win over the USA. In the Gold Medal game, Bell gave Cuba one of its two runs with a solo shot off of Hyun-jin Ryu in a 3-2 loss as they got Silver. Bell led the 2008 Olympics in average and slugging, was second with 8 runs (one behind Frederich Cepeda) and tied for 4th with 6 RBI.
Bell had a rough Opening Day for the 2008-2009 season. In his first plate appearance, he was hit in the face by a Yunieski Maya pitch and did not get up for several minutes. He was removed from the game to get X-rays. He struggled in the first half of the year, batting .232/~.335/.355 and was left off Cuba's 2009 World Baseball Classic roster. He rebounded to finish at .288/.397/.485 with 17 steals in 20 tries, with 11 homers. He only ranked among the top 10 in steals, where he tied Leonys Martín for second behind Yoelvis Leiva. He also won a Gold Glove.
Bell's 2009-2010 was much better. He hit two grand slams in the first inning on Opening Day, one off star hurler Vicyohandry Odelín, to become the first Cuban player ever to hit two grand slams in an inning, let alone the first inning of the season. Bell's 8 RBI broke the record for RBI in an inning, held by Fausto Álvarez. Bell became the 4th Cuban leaguer to hit two grand slams in a game. He also became the second player with two multi-homer innings on his career, matching Fausto Álvarez. Finally, Bell drove in 12 runs to tie Fernando Hernández's record. He set another record on December 25 when he hit his fourth grand slam of the season, a new mark for a single campaign. He finished the regular season with 7 grand slams to shatter the old record, then added one more in the playoffs. For the campaign, Bell hit .368/.489/.693 with 65 runs, 20 homers and 80 RBI in 76 games. He stole 22 bases while only being caught twice. He was third in steals behind Marino Luis and Leonys Martin, 6th in average, 6th in RBI and 3rd in slugging behind José Dariel Abreu and Alfredo Despaigne.
In 2015, Bell was granted permission by the Cuban government to play for the Capitales de Québec in the independent Can-Am Association. In 59 games, he hit .317/.363/.424 with 31 runs scored and 23 RBIs. He hit only 2 homers, however. Among his teammates in the "old capital" were former Cuban national team player Yunieski Gourriel, SS Yordan Manduley and pitcher Ismel Jimenez, who had also been granted similar permissions. In 2016, he decided to give the major leagues a shot, and received his national authorities' blessing. he worked out for a number of major league teams in February while being based in Mexicali, Baja California in Mexico and awaiting a decision by MLB to designate him a free agent. There was some question whether, given his age, he would still have the ability to be a solid major league player.
- Japanese wikipedia
- 2007 World Port Tournament
- 2008 Olympics
- Grant Robertson: "Cuban prospect Alexei Bell earning a historic shot to realize his MLB dream", The Globe and Mail, January 21, 2016.