From the mailbag:
The Mets have a rookie named Eric Campbell who is playing very well so far. He's hitting .328 with a .370 OPB and a .422 SLG in his first 48 games. I follow the prospects closely but I don't remember hearing about him before the season started and he wasn't in your book. Who is this guy and why didn't you write about him?----Juan P, Paterson, New Jersey.
That's true, I didn't write about him in my book this year. Or last year, or the year before. He had a pretty decent 2013 season in Triple-A and I should have put him in this year given that he had a spring training invite. That was an oversight on my part. However, I did have him in my 2011 book, with the following comment:
Eric Campbell (not to be confused with the former Braves prospect of the same name) was drafted by the Mets in the eighth round in 2008, from Boston College. He didn’t do much in 2009, but in ’10 he had an impressive campaign in the Florida State and Eastern Leagues, showing a knack for making contact, with decent strike zone judgment and moderate power. He played first base in 2009, but played mostly third base and left field in ’10; he’s not great at either spot, but won’t kill you. I don’t think he’ll hit enough to be a regular as a corner player, but he could fill a bench role eventually. Grade C.
Tools-wise Campbell never really stood out; Terry Collins himself pointed that out this spring. But he just kept hitting decently enough and playing every position they asked him to play with a measure of competence. It took him three years to get out of the high minors, but here he is.
He hit .263/.371/.400 in two years of Double-A at Binghamton. At Triple-A Las Vegas he hit .326/.437/.490 in 153 games over parts of two seasons. Keep in mind that Las Vegas in particular and the PCL in general are really good places to hit, but he did post a really nice BB/K ratio in the minors (86/80 for Vegas) along with defensive versatility and occasional pop.
Interestingly, the BB/K ratio is one thing that has not carried forward to the majors: he's at 8/33 right now.
No, I don't think he's really a .328 hitter over the long haul, but that doesn't mean he can't have value. If he can get some of the walks back, hit .250-.260 with a decent OBP and occasional pop (which seems plausible given the entirety of his track record), his ability to play multiple positions would make him a valuable role player in this era of short benches and huge pitching staffs.
And I always root for the eighth round picks. I love it when those guys make good.