DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Bethune-Cookman Head Baseball Coach Jason Beverlin formally announced the hiring Saturday of Jason Bell as an assistant coach on his staff. Bell replaces Kenny Smith, who left in August to a similar position at High Point. Bell joins the Wildcats with 23 years of coaching experience, spending the past nine seasons as an assistant coach at Penn State.
“It’s great to be back home, working with a great coaching staff,” Bell said. “I’ve known Coach Beverlin for a long time and know what he brings to the table with his intensity. It’s a great opportunity to work with the quality coaches that we have here right now.”
The relationship between coaches Bell and Beverlin extends back to their collegiate playing days. They were teammates on the summer Cod League’s Cotuit Kettleers, with Beverlin hailing from Western Carolina and Bell from Oklahoma State.
“He’s a great addition to our staff,” Beverlin said. ”He brings a lot of experience from both his college and professional playing career and as a college coach.”
At B-CU, Bell will work with the Wildcats pitchers and have a significant role in the recruiting effort. He has a wealth of personal experiences that can translate to even greater success for the Wildcats’ pitching staff, having played for Oklahoma State from 1993-95, compiling a career record of 31-8. He pitched in the College World Series in 1993 and was a two-time All-American (1994 and 1995).
“Any time someone has actually gone through something in their own experiences, he won’t be just talking about it, he’s lived it,” Beverlin said. “For our guys to be able to bounce questions off him, and draw from that experience, it’s going to be big for our team.”
Through his nine seasons at Penn State under Coach Robbie Wine, Bell served as the team’s pitching coach, while also providing significant contributions to the Nittany Lions’ recruiting effort. Bell oversaw notable improvements in the PSU pitching staff and guided several prospects to both outstanding collegiate careers and professional opportunities.
Most recently, Bell helped Joe Kurrasch become one of the Big Ten's top starting pitchers and go on to be an eighth round draft pick (San Francisco Giants) in the 2012 MLB Draft, after he finished the season with a 2.05 ERA, the lowest for a Big Ten starter. Under Bell’s tutelage, Drew O'Neil was selected in the fourth round by the Chicago White Sox to become the program’s highest draft pick in 2009, after the first team All-Big Ten selection tied his own Penn State single-season saves record with 11, and boasted a 1.88 ERA, allowing just four earned runs through the regular season. Converted outfielder Scott Kelley also thrived on Bell’s staff, making a smooth transition to the mound and earning a 23rd round 2009 MLB Draft selection by the Kansas City Royals. Bell also helped David Lutz transform into a top-flight reliever, leading the team in ERA in 2009-10. In 2010, reliever Heath Johnson was also selected in the 45th round of the Draft by the New York Yankees.
Under Bell’s direction in 2012, PSU recorded more strikeouts than in any previous season with 407, and pitched a program high of 486 innings, also logging the first no-hitter since 1995.
Bell headed up the PSU pitching staff during two of the biggest years of improvement, the 2006-07 seasons. In 2007, the PSU staff led the conference in ERA (4.05), fewest runs, fewest earned runs and fewest hits allowed, spearheading an 11-game improvement from 2006. That season, PSU led Big Ten pitching by wide margins in conference play, with a 3.41 overall team ERA that led the league by a full 1.39 runs, while PSU was the only team to give up less than 100 earned runs in conference play (fewer than three earned runs per game). The Nittany Lions hurlers also allowed the second-fewest hits in the league and picked up 20 wins, also second-best. Four of Bell's pitchers were drafted in June of that year; Gary Amato, Craig Clark, Scott Gaffney and Drew O'Neil.
Bell served with Wine at Oklahoma State before joining the staff at Penn State, as volunteer assistant coach in charge of pitching for three seasons. During his time with the Cowboys, he aided in the development of seven pitchers who were taken in the MLB Draft, including a second and fourth-rounder. The Cowboys also won the 2004 Big 12 Conference Championship. Some notable pitchers he coached at Oklahoma State include current big leaguer Scott Baker (Chicago) and former Toronto Blue Jay Scott Richmond.
As a two time All-American pitcher for OSU, Bell aided in taking the Cowboys to a 1993 CWS semi-final appearance, leading the team in ERA in 1994-95 (3.30 and 3.10), innings pitched (128 and 145) and strikeouts (140 and 120). He helped the team to three Big Eight Championships, pitching 325.1 career innings, the second-most in school history, while his 31 victories are third. Bell's 145 innings pitched and 19 games started in 1995 are both school records. He also holds the school record for consecutive victories with 19, spanning from 1993-95.
Before entering the coaching world, Bell pitched in the minor leagues from 1995-2001. He was selected in the second round of the 1995 MLB draft by the Minnesota Twins and played with the Low-A Fort Wayne Wizards, the High-A Fort Myers Miracle, the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats and the Triple-A Salt Lake City Buzz. He also played in the Toronto Blue Jays' system for both their Double-A (Tennessee) and Triple-A (Syracuse) teams. Bell holds the New Britain Rock Cats' franchise record for career strikeouts, and is second in wins.
A native of Orlando, Fla., Bell graduated from William R. Boone High School in Orlando in 1992. He earned his bachelor's degree from Oklahoma State in Sociology in 2003 after returning to school following his professional career. Bell will be joined in Daytona Beach by his wife, Tracy, and daughter, Reagan Elizabeth. Both his parents and grandparents also live in Florida.