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Eddie Campbell took a short trip from Virginia Tech to the Pulaski Mariners, where he's finding success in pro baseball.
Sunday, August 4, 2013
PULASKI — Eddie Campbell’s New England bona fides are unassailable.
The clincher is the vocabulary test. Campbell blew away the pop quiz the other day at his place of employment, the Pulaski Mariners clubhouse.
The pitcher was asked to define the following list:
“Milkshake,” he said without hesitation.
He nailed that one, submarine sandwich.
“Blue jeans, but I don’t use that one.”
Then he threw in one more exclusively New England colloquialism:
“When I first came down here, I used the word ‘wicked’ a lot. People were like ‘I’ve never heard of that.’”
For the linguistically challenged, ‘wicked’ is used either as an emphatic adjective or as an adverb. Examples:
“I’m wicked hungry, let’s go for a grinder;” or “This is a wicked good frappe;” or “That Eddie Campbell has a wicked nasty curveball.”
That he does, which is one of the reasons he pulled up stakes to bring his pro-grade hook from home in Bridgewater, Mass., to Virginia, where he has been the past three years. First stop was Virginia Tech, where the left-hander spent three highly successful seasons flinging his hard-to-hit pitches to ACC batters.
That earned him a 15th-round selection by the Seattle Mariners in this year’s amateur draft. That was his second time being drafted. He was a 44th-round pick by the Cincinnati Reds out of Bridgewater-Raynham High School in 2010. This time, he didn’t take long in his deliberations.
“It was a dream of mine always to play professional baseball,” he said. “The opportunity was right and presented itself. I thought it was the right move for me.”
If results are an indication, three years of Division I competition had him more than ready for Appalachian League play.
Campbell made two of his first three appearances in relief. His last four outings have been as a member of Pulaski’s six-man rotation. In those 31 2⁄3 innings Campbell has fashioned a 1.99 earned run average while striking out 46 and walking 10.
In his latest start — a 9-3 win on Friday night against the Danville Braves — Campbell struck out six, while allowing six hits, a walk and a run over six inning. He also got the win, improving his record to 2-1
The transition from college to pro ball has been smooth — so far. Part of the reason, Campbell believes, is the stout ACC lineups he had to face for the Hokies.
“The ACC is one of the best conferences if not the best in the country,” he said. “So you’re playing with some of the best players in the country. That helps you get ready for this.”
No question he was ready.
“He’s got life on his fastball and he has a potential Major League curveball,” Pulaski manager Chris Prieto said. “He’s getting a lot of swings and misses out of the strike zone. If he can manage his strikes in the strike zone, he would be that much better.
“He’s really effective right now. There’s no telling how far he can get.”
Or how far from home — but he’s used to that by now. Campbell landed at Tech in part because former Hokies coach Pete Hughes and staff had Massachusetts ties. Hughes, who took a new job with Oklahoma after Tech’s season ended in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, coached at Boston College before coming to Tech.
After going 26-3 with a 0.93 ERA to go with 372 strikeouts in high school, Campbell had plenty of college recruiting interest. In the end, it came down to Boston College, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. Being in Blacksburg for the first time sealed it.
“When I visited the school, I loved it,” Campbell said. “Everything fell into place.”
Three years later, the Mariners came calling, and everything fell in place once again. Moving expenses from Blacksburg to Pulaski were not exorbitant. No wonder he says he loves it around here.
“It’s awesome, a lot of fun,” he said. “You meet a lot of new guys from all over the world, the competition’s great, the coaching’s been outstanding, and I feel like I’m developing. It’s been a great journey.”
Even if trips back home involve previously unimagined communication breakdowns, Campbell admitted:
“Up north, if you say ‘y’all,’ people are like ‘What?’ ”
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