Despite a canceled minor league season, Micah Bello’s job remains the same: find a way to improve.
When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down spring training after three weeks, Bello flew from Arizona to back home in Hilo.
Bello, a Milwaukee Brewers farmhand, finds himself in familiar company. He’s been working out most every day since at Kaha Wong’s hitting cage, along with Kean Wong and Kalai Rosario.
“I’ve been working out with Kean and his dad every morning, Monday to Friday, hitting stuff, getting reps in the field and live BP (batting practice), and conditioning,” he said.
Last season, Bello spent his second straight season in rookie ball with the Rocky Mountain Vibes in the Pioneer League based in Colorado. He hit .232 with six homers and 20 RBIs and had a .726 OPS in 177 at-bats.
The 2018 second-round supplemental pick thought he was poised for a big gain in his third pro year. His body is maturing, and the work he’s put in is seen by his layer of muscle. When he was drafted out of Hilo High, he was 165 pounds. At the end of spring training, he was 187 pounds. Now, he’s 194 pounds.
He’s no longer listed on mlb.com’s top 30 prospect list for the Brewers, but that doesn’t mean the organization has forgotten about him.
“There’s a weekly check-in every Friday, “ he said. “They want to know what’s happening and where you should be at. They give you an option, follow your own plan or theirs if you have a trainer. It’s all up to you.”
In the 2020 MLB draft, Milwaukee picked UCLA outfielder Garrett Mitchell in the first round. He’s the No. 1 prospect.
But Bello shouldn’t be discouraged because the Brewers promote from within. Keston Hiura, a first-round pick in 2017 out of UC Irvine, was promoted to the majors last year.
It’s still undecided if Bello will play winter ball or even instructional ball, as the pandemic has largely been held in check by MLB protocols.
“In Zoom meeting, they’re talking about instructional ball for a month or month and half,” Bello said. “They’ll keep us posted. They don’t know the current situation. They’ll play it by ear.”
Bello, who made his pro debut in 2018 at age 17, has youth on his side, always an attractive asset. He’s ready to use his next spring training to impress the Milwaukee brass and show that he’s worthy of a promotion.
“You get to spring training and do your best to perform,” he said. “You play to your best abilities to try to get to a higher team. Every year, you have to fight for a spot on a different team.”
He keeps in touch with draft classmate, Kekai Rios, the former UH-Manoa catcher, who batted .194 with a .511 OPS in 98 at-bats in Single-A ball in Wisconsin.
“He’s on Oahu, working out with the UH-Manoa players,” Bello said. “We try to keep tabs on each other.
“The main thing is you put the work in every morning and wait to get a call to go back up.”