The Seminoles welcome 13 newcomers to this year's team.
The Seminoles welcome 13 newcomers to this year's team this fall.
The Seminole assistant coach works with the hitters, oversees the catchers and serves as recruiting coordinator.
The Seminoles erase a four-run deficit with two runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings on Sunday.
Brandon Leibrandt carries a no-hitter with one out in the eighth inning.
Mike Martin didn't have to sell Florida State's rich baseball history in his search for a top-flight pitching coach with Division I experience in the summer of 2011.
Mike Bell was a part of that history and now he's back in Tallahassee where he enters his second season as an associate head coach with his primary duties overseeing the Seminole pitching staff and assisting in the recruiting process.
The former Seminole did not disappoint in his first season as a member of the Florida State coaching staff guiding the Garnet & Gold to a berth in the College World Series and a top four finish. Under Bell, the Seminole pitching staff posted a team ERA of 3.47 good for fourth best in the ACC and 52nd nationally. It marked the lowest ERA recorded by a Seminole squad since 2003 when the team finished with a sub-three (2.96) earned run average.
From the start of the 2012 season, Bell relied on some new faces to solidify the weekend rotation with a pair of freshmen in Brandon Leibrandt and Mike Compton and sophomore Peter Miller filling those roles. It marked just the third time since 1980 that Florida State opened a weekend series with a rotation consisting only of sophomores and freshmen. Leibrandt became the first freshman to start an opening day game in Florida State history while holding down the spot as the Friday night starter all season long. Compton stood as the lone pitcher in the ACC to reach double-digit wins while finishing tied for second nationally in that same category. Both pitchers would go on to earn Freshmen All-America honors.
In all, seven Seminole pitchers finished the 2012 season with an ERA below 3.50 including NCBWA Stopper of the Year finalist and Dick Howser Trophy semifinalist Robert Benincasa. The junior right hander had a career year going 4-2 with 16 saves and a 1.32 ERA in 32 appearances. His 16 saves were the second most in a single-season in Florida State history and tied for the sixth most in the career annals. Benincasa was recognized as a first team All-American by Baseball America, NCBWA and Perfect Game and was a seventh round draft pick by the Washington Nationals. Hunter Scantling joined Benincasa in the 2012 MLB Draft selected in the 14th round by the Detroit Tigers. After a successful first season back at his alma mater, Bell was named the top assistant coach of 2012 by Perfect Game USA.
Before returning to Florida State, Bell's resume spoke for itself. In his first seven seasons at the Division I level, including the last four as the Oklahoma pitching coach, the Sarasota, Fla. native helped recruit and develop 22 pitchers who were selected in the Major League Baseball draft. That includes three first-round selections - including 2006 No. 1 overall pick Luke Hochevar - during his three seasons at Tennessee, where he helped the Volunteers reach the 2005 College World Series.
In four seasons at Oklahoma, Bell's pitching staffs established a number of new standards. His 2011 group posted a 3.00 ERA, which is the Sooners' lowest since 1978. Four of his hurlers earned All-Big 12 honors, including second-team All-American Michael Rocha. The Sooners posted a 41-17 final record and were ranked No. 15 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll. In 2010, his pitching staff was instrumental in leading OU back to the College World Series for the first time since 1995.
The 2010 Sooners registered a program-record 583 strikeouts and produced three drafted pitchers. His 2009 staff included first-round pick Garrett Richards and Ryan Duke. Duke was named All-American; OU's first since 2000.
When Bell arrived at Oklahoma as coach Sunny Golloway's assistant he had a blank slate to fill, but set out building a staff based on the same principles he continues to apply at Florida State.
"You recruit the best guys possible - the best fit for your program - and the draft will take care of itself. We want power stuff, proven stuff and projectable, but we also want winners. Stuff is very important, but that proven winner with stuff is what we're looking for."
Bell said it is important to identify and sign starters, relievers and closers when building a staff. And it certainly doesn't hurt that Bell has enjoyed successful stints with programs in both the SEC and Big 12 - two of the nation's top baseball conferences - as well as a productive first year as a coach in the ACC.
Beyond his Division I experience, he spent two seasons as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at perennial Division II national power Florida Southern, where the Mocs twice finished in the top 20 nationally in ERA. He launched his coaching career in 2002 at Brandon High, where he led the team to a district title and a regional runner-up finish as the head coach, earning Hillsborough County Coach of the Year honors.
A left-handed pitcher and first baseman for the Seminoles, Bell helped Martin's teams reach the 1994 and 1995 CWS in his only two seasons. He was a two-year teammate of FSU assistant coach Mike Martin, Jr., who handled the catching duties for those squads. Bell posted a two-year record of 14-4 with a 3.00 ERA and was twice named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll.
Selected in the 20th round of the 1995 draft by the Montreal Expos, Bell spent six years in the minors, including the final three with the Baltimore Orioles' organization where he reached the Double-A level.
Prior to enrolling at FSU, where he earned his degree in 1996, Bell spent two seasons pitching at Pasco-Hernando Community College, where he was a two-time All-Suncoast Conference selection.
Bell is married to the former Alicia Favarato, a Florida State graduate, and the couple has two children, daughter Alexis (7) and son, Kyler (5).
BELL BY THE NUMBERS