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Meet Chris Campos

While many fans are looking at top LAD pitching prospects in AA and AAA, there are others being developed in the lower level affiliates who seem to be rising…many with very little hype.  Rancho Cucamonga has three potentially elite pitching prospects.  My favorite is Payton Martin, who I was writing about very early on before he found his way to LAD Top 30 lists. He is 19 years old, drafted in the 17th round out of high school in the 2022 draft as a 2-way player. He was a legit high school SS with a commitment to a good baseball university, East Carolina, to play SS.  He is strictly a pitcher in the LAD system.

Another is Jarred Karros.  Jarred (22 year’s old) out of UCLA, was California League Pitcher of the Month for May, and also was California League Pitcher of the Week 07-02-2023.

But the focus for this post is a pitcher who I believe is just about ready to blossom, Chris Campos.  Chris was a legit SS/relief pitcher from St. Mary’s.  He will be following in the footsteps of fellow Gael, Tony Gonsolin, in eschewing the field strictly for the mound.

Chris is the fourth Gael’s draft pick for the Dodgers from St Mary’s since 2016.

  • Tony Gonsolin – 2016, 9th round
  • Joe Vranesh – 2019, 15th round
  • Michael Hobbs – 2021, 10th round
  • Chris Campos – 2022, 7th round

Hobbs is still the St. Mary’s saves leader.

Chris started his high school career at high school sports power house, Mater Dei.  Mater Dei pushes more funding into their athletic programs than many universities.  Their facilities are top notch, as are their athletes.  Mater Dei has been this way for decades as both my sons played against them in both baseball and football, and their facilities were unmatched at that time.

Chris played freshman baseball and JV as a sophomore at Mater Dei. However after speaking with the varsity head coach before his junior year, he learned he would not be starting and that he was not what D-1 programs were looking for.  He was just too small.  Where have we heard that before.  He is currently, 5’10” 170 pounds.

Instead of riding the pine at Mater Dei, he decided to enroll at Damien High School where another elite high school coach was the head baseball coach, Andy Nieto. All Chris was promised was a chance, and that is all he wanted.  Nieto had won 4 Southern Section Titles while the Coach at another Southern California power house, Bishop Amat (2007, 2008, 2011, 2014).  Nieto left Amat to become the head coach at Damien in 2015.

While at Damien, Chris batted .347 and had a head scratching 0.25 ERA on the mound.

Chris wanted to continue to be a two-way player in college, and St. Mary’s gave him that opportunity.

In his three years at St. Mary’s, he was primarily a SS and high leverage reliever.  In 336 PA, Campos batted .290/.347/.373/.720.  As a reliever, Campos compiled 34.2 IP with a 1.30 ERA.  He had 41 K and 15 BB.

“Christopher’s will to win separates him,” said Head Coach Greg Moore. “His awareness on the field is what you see from the best point guards in basketball. CC got better each semester on campus. He has an explosive arm and knows how to play the game. He’s as competitive and gritty as anyone on the West Coast.”

The day-two draft pick had just flown home for the draft.  He was playing summer collegiate ball for the very successful Bellingham Bells squad in the West Coast League when he got the call. During his time with the Bells, he had pitched six innings and hadn’t allowed an earned run with nine strikeouts, five saves, and only one walk allowed. Continuing as a two-way player, he was 18 for 72 (.250) with three doubles and a .333 on-base percentage with as many walks as strikeouts (6).  While certainly a small sample size, those pitching numbers did not hurt his draft position.

Campos grew up a Los Angeles Dodgers fan and is now enjoying playing for his hometown team. This year Campos is playing in the back yard of his La Verne home.  Rancho Cucamonga is about 40 minutes from his home.  He has plenty of family who attend his games at RC.  He is also a little familiar with the Quakes stadium as he played some high school games in that stadium.

2023 is Campos’ first year as a fulltime pitcher.  While his numbers are not eye-popping, he is more than holding his own in a very hitter friendly California League.

In 24 games (13 starts), Chris has compiled 61.1 IP.  He has earned a 4.84 ERA with 77 K against 29 BB.  Like most LAD pitching prospects, their innings are being monitored on a game by game basis.  Campos has yet to pitch more than 4.0 innings in any of his games.

He had perhaps his 2nd best start and game of the season on August 24 against the Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres).  He completed 4.0 IP, 0 runs, 3 hits, 0 walks, and 4 K.  Earlier in the month, he pitched 4.0 scoreless 1-hit innings against Fresno Grizzlies (Colorado).  He registered 1 BB against 6 K in that game.

For the month of August, Campos has started 5 games, and compiled 17.0 IP.  He has a 2.12 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP, and a .186 BAA.

Campos features a fastball, change, curve, and slider. His fastball sits 94 mph, and can hit as high as 97.  Both he and Jared Karros worked together in the off-season to develop their secondary pitches.  It seems to be paying off for both.

Campos should move to Great Lakes for the beginning of 2024.  If successful, we might get to see him at Tulsa before the end of next season.  He is not on top-30 lists right now, but very few semi-converted SS are rated highly as pitchers until they have some experience to support it.  I do not know if he will make BA or MLBPipeline LAD Pre-Season Top 30, but he will be listed with FanGraphs.  Here is what they said about him prior to the 2023 season:

A very athletic two-way player at St. Mary’s, Gonsolin, er, I mean Campos, was up to 95 mph on the mound for the Gaels and has exciting looseness and capacity for movement. He was also a capable defensive shortstop with pretty decent contact skills, but he only pitched after the draft. With so few innings under his belt (Campos threw only worked 34.2 frames in college) there’s lots of developmental meat on the bone here, and an exciting arm strength and athleticism foundation on which to build.

I look forward to how he has progressed in their eyes after this season.

Some of what I wrote above comes from an excellent interview Casey Porter had with Chris Campos prior to the 2023 season.  Casey does a great job with his MiLB player interviews.

 

 

 

And some pretty cool pictures of a young Chris Campos.  He was not a shy youngster.

Photo Gallery

 

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Badger

Tommy sure looks happy to be there.

5’10 huh. Well, Stroman is shorter. Also heavier.

Yes a lot is being said about the injustice to Muncy, but a lot of what is being written is about Urias. Hopefully it was a hiccup, or maybe September will look more like July. Guess we’ll see.

The post season opponent pitching will be good. It’s doubtful the Dodgers will score 6+ against it. Our pitching must get locked in. Starting now.

Last edited 7 months ago by Badger
Bumsrap

The Dodgers IMHO have enough arms if they are not used as 6 inning starters. They don’t have enough of those.

Badger

You may be right about that Fred. Hope so. I’m still concerned about beating the better teams that advance in the playoffs. Other than Kershaw and Urias, who’s tested? Right now it’s Urias, Kershaw and Lynn. And scoring 6+ in the playoffs isn’t going to happen often.

Dave

You mentioned the organizations’ strategy to keep minor league pitchers at 4 innings. I also notice their tendency at the big league level to give the starters extra days off. As an example Lynn had 7 days in between starts and Miller could start today on regular rest but they are bringing Stone uo to pitch.
Here’s my question. Would it be better for the pitcher to pitch less innings per start, or get more days off?
Pitching less innings doesn’t build them up but random extra days off might mess with their rhythm and routine.
I would like to hear others’ opinions.

Last edited 7 months ago by Dave
Bluto

A lot of people with much more experience and knowledge are helping the Dodgers formulate the pitcher usage dynamic.

Sadly, there is no reason for them to share their reasoning and basis.

Oldbear48

After watching another Urias meltdown, he just does not handle the opposition hitting homers well, I was able to watch USC-San Jose State. The first half ended 21-14 as USC’s blown coverage allowed a touchdown with 8 seconds left on the clock. But the second half was all USC as they scored five touchdowns including a 96-yard kick return by a freshman. It ended up 56-28 and it should not have been that close. SC’s defense had a couple of hiccups. But overall, they played well and the D-Line is almost all new guys who came through the transfer portal.

Bumsrap

I am pulling for Stone.

Bumsrap

He did well. He wound up tossing 80 pitches. See what I did there?

Badger

Dave asks a good question to which I too would like to hear answers.

Things are so different now than years ago when I got my education in physical training. Pitchers are bigger and stronger and throw so much harder, the strains on the ligaments in the arm are much larger than ever. It’s my opinion that if pitchers are going to continue to throw like this, both longer recovery times and fewer pitches must be considered. If it were me I’d also say no throwing between starts. Stretching yes. Running, of course. No throwing.

Bumsrap

I don’t think the answer lies in a lab or anatomy. Some team needs to have the pitchers both in quantity and skill level to give it a go. Go, being defined as a piggyback system with pitchers going 4 innings every fourth day. Okay, that’s one plan and there are many other plans including 5 days rest between starts and five innings every fifth day, etc.

Last edited 7 months ago by Bumsrap
Sam Oyed

Next thing we’ll read is Mark Prior saw something when he pitched well against the Dodgers. Not only do the Dodgers resign him but they effectively get Rosario for nothing.

RC Dodger

Great article Jeff!
I have attended numerous Damien baseball games and love to see a former Spartan doing well in the Dodger’s system! The most famous Damien alum is probably Mark McGwire, and many really good baseball players have come from Damien.
Hope to see Chris Campos at Dodger Stadium soon!

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