ROUND ROCK, Texas -- Chad Bell knew he was pitching well. He just didn't know he was pitching this good.
Bell, who began this season as a reliever in high Class A Myrtle Beach, is now a starter with Triple-A Round Rock. In his first two starts with the Express, he is 2-0 with a 0.72 ERA, tossing six scoreless innings in a 2-0 win over New Orleans on Sunday. Bell was 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in four relief outings at Myrtle Beach and 2-2 with a 2.84 ERA in 13 games, including seven starts, with Double-A Frisco.
"It was a surprise when I got called up," Bell said. "I was throwing the ball well. But I didn't think it would be this fast. I knew, throwing the ball the way I was, it was a possibility. It definitely wasn't something I was expecting."
In his first start with Round Rock, Bell, 23, gave up one run on five hits, striking out seven and walking four in 5 2/3 innings during a 3-1 win over Iowa. Bell, despite admitting that he didn't have his best stuff, was able to throw six shutout innings in his second start at the Triple-A level.
"If the defense makes plays behind me like they did [Sunday], a lot can happen," Bell said. "I was still able to make some quality pitches down in the zone, working both sides of the plate. You're not always going to have your best stuff. You've just got to throw a few more offspeed pitches here and there, make sure you're ahead. That's what I did."
The Rangers' 14th-round pick in 2009, Bell was "piggybacking" in Myrtle Beach, throwing every five days in relief of the same starting pitcher. While in Frisco, he began as a reliever but was moved to the rotation before getting called up to Round Rock on June 22. So far, the transition from the bullpen to the rotation was been a smooth one.
"From last season to this season, I'm throwing more strikes," Bell said. "I don't have what'd you call an overpowering fastball by any means. Last year, I was a little too timid and got a little picky. I'm not trying to hit corners but just making sure I get it across the plate."