In my article yesterday I discussed the disparity that can often exist between natural talent and mental toughness, especially as it pertains to pitching prospects within the Pittsburgh Pirates Farm System. Former Bristol Pirates Pitching Coach Eric Minshall talked about the fact that many times players with natural talent have their growth stunted or their potential left out of reach because of what’s going on “between the ears”. A player that he talked about as a person that did not suffer this fate and actually outplayed his potential due to his mental fortitude and approach to the game was Pirates Prospect, Bear Bellomy. During the recent Bucs in the Basement Live Podcast, Minshall told a story about Bellomy giving up a double and then vowing to the runner on second that he wasn’t going to score. As Minshall recalled, Bellomy then said mowed down the next batter like he wasn’t even standing there. As the runner on second returned to the dugout, he was reminded by Bellomy of the promise he had made to not let him score. At this time, Chris Lanuti from the Podcast stated that he wanted 26 players on the MLB roster just like Bellomy and I tend to agree.
John “Bear” Bellomy was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 28th Round of the MLB June Amateur Draft out of Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Immediately after being drafted, the 6’4” 205lb Bellomy was assigned to the Bristol Pirates, where he crossed paths with Minshall. In his short time in the Appalachian League, Bear pitched 11 scoreless innings, while striking out 17 and only walking 1; all in relief appearances. Bellomy had been a relief pitcher the majority of his college career for the Raiders, but had started 15 games in his final year, resulting in a 9-3 record, a 3.57 ERA and a 1.192 WHIP.
When Bear was ultimately promoted to the West Virginia Black Bears of the Short Season-A New York-Pennsylvania League, he was utilized in both roles. He did not experience the same success as he had at the lower level, while transitioning back into a starter five times in his final six appearances to end the season. In his one relief appearance he earned a 4 inning save. As the year came to a close Bear had fought his way to a 3.86 ERA and a 1.319 WHIP, with 23 Strike Outs (8 as a reliever) in 31 innings.
Now I know that you won’t find Bear Bellomy on any Top Pirates Prospect Lists; he doesn’t have the “stuff”. His fastball only touches around 93 MPH and his secondary pitches are listed as below average. However he has something many other pitches don’t have. He has the mental toughness “between the ears”; exhibited by the ability to overlook giving up a solid hit, only to sit down the next batter with seemingly no effort.
With all that being said, look for Bellomy to put his talents on display in Greensboro for the Grasshoppers to begin the season (whenever that may be), hopefully back in the reliever role he found so much success in last year. If he begins the season like he did back in Bristol I would predict a quick promotion to Bradenton, where he will most likely end the year. I am not sure what the future will hold for Bear after that, but I do agree with Chris; I would love to have 26 guys just like him in a Pirates Uniform, telling guys that they aren’t going to score and making it happen.