En route from Anaheim to Los Angeles, Micah Bello and family were in the midst of an amazing adventure.
Bello, the recent Hilo High graduate, was on the continent traveling from one pre-draft workout to another. It’s no surprise. The lanky, powerful outfielder led everyone at his position in the Star-Advertiser All-State voting by coaches and media. That’s a bit of a surprise considering the Vikings lost a play-in game prior to the state tourney and never set foot on Oahu.
But on this night, Wednesday, to be exact, he’s on the road in busy LA.
“I still have to leave pretty soon for a tryout at Dodgers Stadium. I was at Angels Stadium. It’s pretty sick. It’s an amazing feeling to walk into the same stadiums that pros play in,” he said.
And earlier in the week?
“I was in San Diego. I had a private workout with Tampa Bay at Palomar College. Then I had the Twins workout at Cypress Field,” he said.
Bello has been on the stage for scouts before. He played in the Area Code Showcase and PDP events, and was in Jupiter, Fla., for the Perfect Game. The Area Code event was especially intriguing; Bello and Jonathan Ornellas of Arizona (committed to Tennessee) were the only high schoolers. The rest of the participants are juniors in college.
If it all sounds like a fantasy for a small-town kid who just a few years ago was playing for Hilo Boys and Girls Club. But Bello is no kid anymore. Baldwin coach Shane Dudoit recalls Bello belting a first-pitch offering from future All-State first-teamer Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa 400 feet in a preseason game. Bello went on to have a monster senior season: a .564 batting average, 26 runs scored, an on-base percentage of .667 and slugging percentage of .821, along with 16 stolen bases.
Bello is listed as the top prospect in this year’s MLB draft, beginning today, by a wide margin according to Baseball America. Baseball America has Bello as its No. 121 overall prospect.
Bello chatted with Hawaii Prep World about the present and the future.
Name: Micah Bello
School Sports: baseball and football
Athlete: Mike Trout
> I try to copy my game after him. I want to be similar to him because he’s the greatest in the game right now. His whole game. I like his whole game.
Food (at home): Dad’s Chicken Adobo
> It’s really good. I can’t make it. It’s a special thing and he doesn’t tell me how he makes it. He hides some of the ingredients.
So what do you think the secret ingredient is?
Food (eating out): Jersey Mikes
> It’s like Subway, but 10 times better. The sandwiches are bigger and they put more meat. It’s like a foot and 5 inches.
Hobby Outside of sports: Hunting
> My cousin Austin (Maldonado) taught me how to hunt. We look for pigs. We use dogs.
Dogs and knives? How expensive are the knives?
> We just regular knives, but we sharpen it before we go every day.
How old were you?
> I started about six years ago.
When’s the last time you went hunting?
> The last time I went was three weeks ago.
What’s the funnest thing about it?
> Just being out in the wildness. It’s worry-free and your family and friends.
Do you guys wear camouflage and special gear?
> Surf shorts and T-shirt.
Movie: Fast and the Furious
TV Show: Ghost Adventures
> It’s on American Network.
Do you believe in ghosts? Have you seen one before.
> Yes, I’ve heard it when I work out in the morning at 4:30. I usually just finish my workout and say sorry for bothering them.
Video Game: MLB Road to the Show 17
> I play every day. It’s on PS4.
Did you bring a PS4 for the trip?
> No. When I travel for baseball, I just focus on baseball. I created my own character, but I play as Mike Trout.
Music Artist: Kapili (friend from high school)
> I’ve known him since sophomore year. He’s a junior. He plays reggae, it’s all in the moment. He can sing.
Teacher: Mr. James Carter (Hilo High School)
> He’s my math teacher. I like his comebacks. He’s a funny guy.
> I think I ended this quarter with a 3.2. Cumulative is a 3.0, I think.
Would you still consider college?
> College is still a possibility, but if I get drafted where my parents want me to get drafted, I’m going to sign.
Class/Subject: PE/Team Sports
Place: Hunting on the mountain
Motto/Scripture: “When things don’t go right, go left.”
> That’s from my dad.
What your mom (Stacey Bello) says that you can’t forget?
> “Micah, did you do your homework?”
What your dad (Mason Bello) says that you can’t forget?
> “How was batting tonight?”
> He’s talking about when I’m with Coach Kaha (Wong). He really tweaks our swing a lot to have more power, good launch angles and drive the ball up. My swing is a combination pretty much. I have pretty consistent contact with power.
What your coaches say that you can’t forget?
> “Bello, we need you here.”
> Coach Dave (Carvalho) says that when we need runs or someone on base.
How does your sport affect your daily life during the season and offseason?
> There is no effect because nothing changes. Baseball is year round for me so there is never an offseason.
Working hard every day, getting hundreds, thousands of swings over the years, did you push yourself or was it something your family expected?
> That was my decision. I was about 4. My dad would always say, let’s go practice. Sometimes I’d give him attitude. He pushed me a lot. Coach Kaha instills confidence in you that you can hit the ball good.
He has no peer when it comes to training hitters, it seems. It’s not enough to show up at his cages.
> There’s a long waiting list. He takes the people who he thinks are going to thrive.
What middle and elementary school did you attend?
> Waiakea Intermediate and Waiakeawaena Elementary.
What youth teams did you play for?
> Andrews Braves and Boys & Girls Club (BGC).
What club do you play for and what are the daily commitments like year-round?
> I played for Big Island Baseball under Coach Kaha and Team Hawaii under Coach Duane Eldredge. I also played travel ball with TBSoCal under Coach Benny Bonilla from Southern California during the summer months fro the past three years.
Where have you traveled?
> To play sports: California, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida, Nevada
What do you like to do – or what’s something else you’re good at – that would surprise most people?
> I enjoyed boxing when I was younger. I worked with Uncle Albert Rosas, but had to stop once baseball became a full time/year round sport for me.
> Boxing helped me develop quick-twitch muscles so I react to the ball faster. I boxed four to five years. My mom didn’t let me fight in the ring. She had me learn self-defense.
What is your ultimate dream/bucket list?
> It would be to make it to the major leagues as quickly as I can and have a successful career there.
Where would you like to travel?
> Bora Bora. It’s beautiful over there. The fishing over there is good.
What life would you like to have as an athlete?
> A successful one.
What life would you like to have away from sports?
> A happy one.
In the offseason, you’re always going to come home?
Hilo isn’t extremely close to Kilauea and all the lava flows. What’s your view of what’s going on with Madame Pele?
> She’s just cleaning the land, pretty much. I just stay away.
What is the history and background of your name?
> My Hawaiian middle name is Keolaokahoku. I was named after my dad whose middle name is Hoku and my uncle Tod (Bello) whose middle name is Keola. Together it means “the life of the star”.
Tod Bello was a phenomenal football player at Hilo in the 1990s and helped them break Konawaena’s spell on the BIIF. One of the best linebackers I’ve ever seen play, and played basketball, too.
> He was a great football player. All the pigs we catch, we give them to him and our grandpa (Mo Bello), and they make sausages and smoked meat. We gut it and we carry it out.
You’re also the younger brother of former Waiakea basketball standout Kanisha Bello, who is now an assistant coach. What are her words of wisdom to you?
> She said, be better than she was.
Are you surprised she’s coaching?
> She loves the game, so as long as she’s happy.