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New Red Sox reliever Isaiah Campbell refined pitch arsenal and leap frogged over Triple-A to the majors this season
New chief baseball officer Craig Breslow made his first trade on Friday. He traded infielder Luis Urías to the Mariners in exchange for right-handed reliever Isaiah Campbell.
The 26-year-old made his major league debut with the Mariners this past season. He posted a 2.83 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 27 outings over 28 2/3 frames. During his time in the bigs, the righty held opponents to just a .210 batting average against him, he also held them to 6.9 hits per nine innings, per Baseball Reference.
Seattle selected Campbell in the second round of the 2019 MLB Draft. The initial expectation was Campbell would be a future pillar within their starting rotation, alongside the likes of George Kirby.
The Mariners decided that Campbell was better suited to be a reliever out of the bullpen. A move that paid off dividends for Seattle and the righty. The team and the right-handed hurler wanted to reduce the number of pitches he would throw to decrease the likelihood he would re-injure his throwing elbow.
This past season, Campbell pitched at Double-A Arkansas and Seattle, bypassing a stint in Triple-A. While at Double-A, he was strong on the mound. He posted a 2.63 ERA in 23 games, earning five saves and struck out 27 batters with a 1.042 WHIP. Those numbers earned him a promotion to the big leagues.
Campbell offers a three-pitch arsenal while on the mound. He has a four-seam heater, slider and sweeper. The righty used to throw a curveball and changeup, but he ditched those two pitches and strict focused on the trio of pitches listed above. The focus on his heater and slider, he saw he velocity tick up to 95-97 mph and his command improved.
“The fastball ticked up just a little bit, especially going in one-inning stints, and I think it just made everything play,” Campbell said in an interview with The Athletic before the 2023 season. “And the slider played better, too. I don’t have to worry about going six innings and throwing 100 pitches. This is going to be best for my career.”
Back in February 2023, The Athletic’s Keith Law released his rankings for Seattle’s top prospects. Law ranked Campbell 16th in the Mariners system and raved about his fastball and slider combo.
“Campbell’s a straight reliever now and his stuff ticked up with the move to the pen, sitting 95-97 mph with a plus slider that gets right-handed hitters to flail at it out of the zone,” wrote Law. “He throws both pitches for strikes and didn’t have any issues with left-handed batters between High A and Double A last year. Right now, he looks like a guy who’d roll out of any bullpen in the seventh or eighth inning.”
Campbell made his major league debut for the Mariners this summer on July 7, pitching against the Houston Astros. He came into the game in the eighth inning, with his family in the stands to watch his dream come true.
In the inning he recorded his first career strikeout. Campbell was the fifth Mariners pitcher to make his major league debut last season.
“There’s a lot of emotion,” he said to reporters after the game, including the Seattle Times. “I was pretty nervous in the bullpen warming up. When I walked out of the bullpen, I kind of just stared into the stadium and looked at the crowd and just kind of soaked it in. Then I just got as locked in as I could. It’s not your normal outing when it’s your major-league debut. I’m glad the results were there and it was part of a team win tonight. I couldn’t be more thankful.”
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