On the heels of what may well be the most intriguing deal of the off-season, the acquisition of Jose Campos has been somewhat lost in the ephemera. This is certainly somewhat justifiable, as Jesus Montero has been the Yankees top prospect for the past few seasons, and Michael Pineda represents the veritable white whale to follow CC Sabathia in the Yankees rotation (and, interestingly enough, has been labeled as a potential right-handed doppelganger of the ace). Both players are likely to have enormous impacts on the respective fates of the Mariners and Yankees, for better or worse … where Campos is unlikely to even reach the Majors prior to 2014. That being said, the inclusion of Campos may well be the factor that swings the balance in favor of Cashman and company.
Signed out of Venezuela three years ago today, the 19-year-old Campos made his stateside debut in the short season Northwest League in 2011. The 6’4″, 195 lb right-hander paced the NWL in strikeouts, while leading all starters in K/BB (6.54) and ranking third in ERA (2.32) and K/9 (9.4). This is made all the more impressive by Campos’ status as the fourth-youngest pitcher in the league.
Campos works with a fairly standard three-pitch repertoire at this point – a four-seamer, a curveball, and a change-up. At this juncture, Campos’ fastball is his bread-and-butter. It sits between 92 and 95 MPH, occasionally touching 98, and it features excellent late life. It is made all the more effective by his ability to consistently command the pitch, painting the corners at will. Campos’ curve has shown flashes of being an average to above-average offering, though the consistency of its break is far outpaced by his ability to command the pitch (which is less of an issue than the opposite, in the minds of many). At its best, the curve is a true power pitch with fantastic movement … and Campos has plenty of time to improve. Campos’ change has improved by leaps and bounds since his signing, but it shares the same issues of inconsistency as his curve. That he can command it well at only 19 is impressive, to be sure, and, again, there isn’t much of a rush. It is also worth noting that many scouts have praised his mechanics, noting that he was very willing to listen to coaching with the Mariners in cleaning up his delivery. This, taken in conjunction with his build, should be paramount in his durability.
As it stands, there is precious little information beyond scouting reports and 81 IP in the United States. The consensus, based upon said reports and statistics, is that Campos profiles as a third starter with the potential for much more – a consensus that I believe to be quite fair, though Campos’ full-season debut with Low-A Charleston will be very telling in this regard. For the time being, Campos should slot in behind Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances as the third-best pitching prospect in the system (no small feat), while joining Dante Bichette, Jr. and Mason Williams on what may be the most exciting team in the Yankees organization.
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