Campbell mans the hot corner for Brooklyn
Like many of his peers, 2008 8th round draft pick Eric Campbell enters his professional career looking to find his game at the next level. The former Boston College leader is not off to the start he hoped, but is confident that time will allow him to get going in a positive direction.
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Even after getting his first hits as a pro, Eric Campbell knew it would take some time before he found his swing again.
Campbell, the Mets' 8th round draft pick this year out of Boston College, is batting .185 with just one RBI through his first 27 at-bats with the Brooklyn Cyclones entering play Thursday. A 6-foot-3, 220-pound right-hander, Campbell hit .306 and played in 53 games at Boston College in 2008, his junior year—both numbers that tied him for second on the team.
But with exactly one month between Campbell's last game at BC, on May 17, in which he hit a three-run home run, and his first with the Cyclones, their opener on June 17, he prepared for the requisite adjustment period.
"It's been a while since I've had a bat, so I'm just trying to get in my groove," Campbell says. "I know it'll take a little while."
At first, it appeared that it might not take much time at all. Campbell went 0-for-4 in the opener, but bounced back the next night, at Staten Island, with a 2-for-4 performance. After sitting the next game, Campbell went 2-for-3, on June 20.
Since then, he's had just one hit, Wednesday night at Hudson Valley. It adds up to a 1-for-16 mark. Still, it's too early for any major adjustments.
"I let some fastballs go that I should've swung at, I wasn't being aggressive enough, trying to see pitches," he says.
A collegiate third baseman, Campbell will split time between third, first and designated hitter this season. The latter is something he had never done before Opening Night in Brooklyn.
"It was a little weird," Campbell says. "You find yourself thinking of things to do in the dugout, trying to stay in the game because you know you're going to have an at-bat soon. It's a little different."
Campbell prefers to play third as much as possible, but says he's willing to do what he needs to do to stay in the lineup. Always a talented hitter, Campbell feels this past season at BC his defense may have actually caught up to his offense.
"You know I try to make it equal, in the last couple years I've really improved defensively—the last year especially, working with coaches at BC," Campbell says. "It's just footwork, reading the hops, not getting any in-between hops, all stuff like that."
Surprisingly for his size, Campbell made more errors (7) than he hit home runs (6) at BC this season. Adding power is something he says he wants to do down the road, but not anything that he is specifically working toward with a special weight training program or the like. A self-proclaimed "line-drive, gap-to-gap hitter," he believes the power will come naturally.
Though he has only spent a little time with Campbell, Brooklyn manager Edgar Alfonzo sees the potential. The first thing that came to his mind when talking about Campbell: "He's tall, strong, and he's going to have some pop."
Off the field, Campbell has been adjusting to New York life, not that it's particularly hard for the Norwich, Conn., native. The crowds in Brooklyn, routinely topping 8,000, are something he only experienced as a player once before, when the Eagles played the Red Sox in spring training—a game in which Campbell had BC's only hit—but he's been in the Northeast his whole life.
"I mean, the people are a little different here, you'll meet some characters," Campbell says. "But it's like that everywhere."
To get back on track, Campbell says he won't set any goals for a game, the season or otherwise, except to simply hit the ball hard. Besides the lure of making the Major Leagues, Campbell has a special incentive to excel in the Mets organization. The Double-A Binghamton Mets play in the Eastern League, the same league in which Campbell's hometown Connecticut Defenders play. That means, down the road, a homecoming is in the works.
"I definitely thought about it as soon as they drafted me, cause I've watched a few Binghamton Mets games in Connecticut," Campbell says. "That'd be a lot of fun."