PHOENIX, Ariz. (NEWS10) — On Monday, the Tri-City ValleyCats announced that second baseman Brantley Bell’s contract was purchased by the San Diego Padres organization. The 28-year-old infielder from Phoenix is coming off of a career year with the ValleyCats in which he was named a Frontier League All-Star, captured the league’s batting title, and on September 1 was awarded the Frontier League’s Most Valuable Player award.

In his first and only season with Tri-City, Bell tallied a .368 AVG, with 24 HR, 81 RBI, and 92 R. The 2022 Frontier League MVP departs Joseph L. Bruno Stadium having torn up the franchise’s record book in a single-season. Bell is now the franchise record holder for: hits (138, single-season), total bases (246, single-season), doubles (30, single-season and career), runs scored (92, single-season), stolen bases (32, single-season), and longest hitting streak (29 games). 

ValleyCats skipper Pete Incaviglia voiced his surprise—and almost frustration—in an interview during the season that Bell, given his massive numbers, hadn’t been signed by a Major League ball club during the 2022 season. But when NEWS10 SPORTS reporter Tommy Valentine met with Bell Thursday afternoon, he didn’t harp on the past; he was simply relieved that his free agent journey was over.

“Free agency is terrible,” said Bell. “Goin’ through that is a stressful time. Somewhere along the way, the Padres gave me a workout. I took literally three ground balls—threw the ball to first base three times; they said, ‘[We]’ve seen enough of that.’ I hit some batting practice, and we just had a long talk out there in the field. It seems like I’m in a great situation. I love the values that they put on winning, competing, and just playing hard. Coming from Independent ball, that’s all anybody does there, ’cause we all love the game. So, it just aligned with me perfectly, and I’m happy to be part of their organization.”

After being drafted in the 11th round of the 2015 MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds out of the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, Bell spent six seasons in the Reds’ farm system, reaching as high as Triple-A Louisville in 2021 before becoming a free agent the following offseason. Bell signed with the ValleyCats in the winter of 2022.

His experience in the Reds organization, paired with his baseball IQ and overall passion for the game, allowed him to provide a veteran presence in the clubhouse, dugout, and on the field. From his first day donning a ValleyCats uniform, until his last, Bell was a clear-cut leader, dedicated to his coaches, teammates, and the ValleyCats’ fans.

“Brantley Bell is an outstanding player and person,” said ValleyCats Vice President and General Manager Matt Callahan. “He was a leader in our clubhouse who set a tone for our team and elevated his teammates on a daily basis. Brantley worked extremely hard to earn this well-deserved opportunity and the ValleyCats are thrilled to see him continue his journey towards the big leagues. We wish him the very best with the Padres organization.”