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Tuck ‘n’ Bell; a friendship that could pay off for the Bucs

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MLB: APR 27 Pirates at Dodgers Photo by David Dennis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If you have been consistently reading the articles I have been putting out on Bucs Dugout since I joined the site last October, you may be privy to my place within the Cole Tucker fan club.

I can’t overstate how much I like him as both a player and a person and believe he could do wonders for a franchise in so desperate need of a leading man and a flashy playmaker.

Why give Tucker the benefit of the doubt in that department though? What makes him the most likely to ascend to stardom in Pittsburgh both on and off the field?

Well, for starters, he has the pedigree of a first-round draft pick. Now, pedigree and an empty bucket is worth the empty bucket in a lot of respects, but the young shortstop has proved in short stints that he has the makings of a talented player. Brought up to the majors far too early in 2019, Tucker flashed the bat early before faltering offensively but showed promise with his glove.

Then there’s the interesting connection he shares with a proven MLB talent representative of the stardom that I hope Tucker can even somewhat ascend to; his relationship with high school friend Cody Bellinger.

Since their time as teens in Arizona, Tucker has watched Bellinger ascend to the pedestal of baseball’s most talented players, gaining recognition as the National League MVP and the core talent of the Los Angeles Dodgers. This past offseason, Tucker attempted to feed off his buddy’s success and learn from it, frequently working out with Bellinger and working on his hitting specifically.

Bellinger’s swing is no joke; in 2019, he had the “eleventh-greatest decline in groundball rate” according to FiveThirtyEight. He was on the cutting edge of baseball’s flyball revolution, increasing his launch angle while also decreasing his strikeouts.

Tucker has mentioned his dedication to fixing his swing path, turning groundballs into flyballs in the hopes of generating better offensive numbers. His attention to Bellinger undoubtedly played a big role in wanting to change his swing; here’s to hoping the offseason the friends spent together leads to offensive improvement in Tucker’s game.