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campbell-regaining-top-prospect-status | August | 2008 Articles

2008 Archives

Campbell Regaining His Top Prospect Status

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2007 was a year that Eric Campbell should be quick to forget. The young third baseman began the season as one of Atlanta’s brightest prospects and just a couple of months later, had all but dropped off the face of the prospect world. How did this happen? Campbell began the season by breaking his thumb, which was an ominous start to what would be a season mired by injuries and disciplinary issues. The Braves were not satisfied with Campbell’s effort while rehabbing from one of his many injuries and the third baseman was eventually sent home by the team. All he had to show from ’07 was a .221/.312/.406 line in just under 300 at-bats for Myrtle Beach and a suspension that would take almost a month and a half of his 2008 season. After not playing since August of last year, Campbell made his way back to the diamond at the end of May. He got into only six games in August and struggled, striking out five times in just 21 at-bats with a .143 batting average. Those struggles carried over into the beginning of June before Campbell began to turn it around in the latter part of the month. He showed very impressive plate discipline in June and ended up hitting .257/.342/.524 with eight home runs and a 10:10 BB:K in just over 100 at-bats. July really marked Campbell’s resurgence. The third baseman hit .284/.393/.490 in 102 at-bats. He showed very impressive on-base skills, almost doubling his walk total from June. The power took a slight hit and his strikeouts went up but the 16.4% walk rate more than made up for those smaller deficiencies. August has been even better for Campbell. He’s only played in six games this month but has been red hot, hitting .400/.556/.1.100 with six extra-base hits (four home runs and two doubles) in only 20 at-bats. His plate discipline has also been phenomenal with a 7:3 BB:K. Campbell’s pre and post All-Star splits tell the best story of Campbell’s turnaround. In 108 at-bats before the break, Campbell barely topped a .700 OPS with a .213/.289/.417 line. Since the break, Campbell is batting .314/.436/.614 in 140 at-bats, good for a 1.050 OPS. He’s walked five more times than he’s struck out (30 BB, 25 K) and that 17.6% walk rate (second year in a row he’s shown good on-base skills) fixes one of the bigger drawbacks that Campbell has historically had. Campbell’s performance over the past two months has been pretty amazing, but we also have to keep things in context. Campbell, who just turned 23, is a little old for the league and this is his second time through. Those two things have to throw in a bit of concern as to how legitimate these results are, but nothing that shouldn’t be solved if Campbell performs once he’s promoted to double-A. His tools were never in question; Campbell doesn’t have a great frame but has the strength and loft in his swing to hit 30 homers in the major leagues along with the defensive tools to be at least an average defender at the hot corner. His biggest question, like most prospects is whether his plate discipline can hold up as he starts facing more advanced competition. Campbell was arguably Atlanta’s top prospect heading into the ’07 season and if he moves up to double-A and keeps hitting, the third baseman could move his name back among the best prospects at that position.
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