Earlier this week, the Yankees announced that Jay Bell would serve as manager of the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Since Bell joined the Yankees farm system in 2017, he’s been a fast riser. After serving just one year as the manager at High-A Tampa, he was promoted to the same position at Double-A Trenton. He took both teams to the playoffs and now looks to do the same with the RailRiders. Given Bell’s track record as both a player and a manager, it seems safe to say Yankees’ prospects are in good hands as long as Bell is around.
After spending 18 seasons in the big leagues, Bell developed quite the track record as a player. He was a former first round pick in 1984 and made his Major League debut at age-20. However, it took him until his fifth season to stick around as a full-time regular. Bell went to two All-Star games—1993 and 1999. Yankee fans might remember Bell from the 2001 World Series. He scored the game-winning, series-clinching run in Game Seven. As his career wound down, he saw his time on the field diminish until he retired after the 2003 season, but he always knew he wanted to get into managing.
As a manager, Bell uses his experiences as a player to inform many of his decisions. In the RailRiders’ press release, Bell said this of his managerial experience:
“When it comes down to it, not one thing I can teach is an original thought. It’s all plagiarized. I have a tremendous respect for Hall-of-Famer Alan Trammell. I learned from him and he learned from the generation prior, who learned from the players before that. It’s all part of what we learn and we will use that to help build Major League-caliber players.”
Although that quote might make it seem like Bell could be more inclined to take an old school approach to the game, that isn’t altogether true. Bell has been noted to be keen on analytics as well. It’s important to remember Gary Denbo, the former-Yankees’ vice president of player development and the person who was an integral piece in revamping the Yankees’ system in recent years, initially gave Bell the job managing in High-A. Additionally, the Yankees, one of the most analytic-driven teams in the league, have felt comfortable enough to keep promoting him.
In the dugout and as the head of a team, Bell has quickly shown that he has what it takes to work well with a talented clubhouse. He’s two-for-two on playoff appearances as a manager and from Albert Abreu and Domingo Acevedo to Jonathan Loaisiga and Estevan Florial, Bell’s managed just about every decent prospect in the Yankees’ system, and his players seem to love him.
After it was announced that Bell would take over as the Triple-A manager, former-Yankee prospects Erik Swanson and Josh Rogers both raved about the hire. Here’s Swanson’s tweet:
You mean the— Erik Swanson (@Erik_Swanson03) January 24, 2019
Similarly, Rogers called Bell his favorite manager ever. He told Scranton beat writer DJ Eberle, “He’s been around the game a long, long time. He knows how to relate to young guys like us. It’s a privilege to have played for him and I’m excited for him for that opportunity as well.”
Given Bell’s experience as both a player and a manager, few other people could be better suited to lead the RailRiders this season. Bell was a highly-drafted pick that initially struggled in the big leagues but ultimately found quite a lot of success. The first half of that statement seems like it could fit the narrative around Greg Bird, Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade, and Chance Adams, a couple of players seemingly destined for Triple-A at some point this year. As a manager, Bell has seemed to really connect with and get the most out of his players. He’ll continue to develop those pre-existing relationships as his former players continue to rise in the system.
With Jay Bell at the helm, the Yankees farm system is in good hands.