Detect-o-Vision on Jorge Campillo
Reports are that the Seattle Mariners have signed Mexican pitching star Jorge Campillo.
Q: Can anything good come out of Mexico?
A: The first good thing the Mariners ever had came out of Mexico, that being Enrique Romo in 1977.
Romo jumped ship to the Mariners at, ahem, 29 years of age, cough-hack-splutter, and was immediately one of the best pitchers in baseball (2.83 ERA in the Kingdome, 105 K's, 39 BB's, 8 HR in 114 IP). He had an adjusted ERA that was 145% better than context. He was fab.
Q: Is Mexican baseball any good?
A: In a sense, it's one of the three "official" Triple-A leagues, along with the International League and Pacific Coast League.
But the Mexican League, like the Cuban and Japanese leagues, is stocked with "lifers" and is an older, more battle-hardened league.
Many Mexican-born pitchers have starred in the majors, including Antonio Osuna, Fernando Valenzuela, Juan Acevedo, Francisco Cordova, Teddy Higuera, and Esteban Loaiza. Mexican-born hitting stars have included Bobby Avila, Vinny Castilla, Eurebiel Durazo. Some of these players developed their skills in Mexico, coming to the U.S. only later in their careers.
Q: Is Jorge Campillo a legit star in Mexico?
A: He led his league in ERA in 2004, with a 2.07 ERA that was achieved at an altitude of – wait for it – 7,000 feet. Let me read that sentence again.
The 26-year-old Campillo is regarded one of the five best pitchers in Mexico and has every chance of being the next blue-and-teal Enrique Romo. He's somewhat comparable to a Kei Igawa-level pitcher in Japan.
Q: Who gets credit for the signing?
A: Who would get credit if the Mariners signed Daisuke Matsuzaka?
Everybody in baseball knows who the best Japanese, Cuban, and Mexican pitchers are. Some ballclubs' scouts can get over their Americ-o-centric biases long enough to report back that foreign players are talented.
The Mariner international scouts are the best, and most objective, in baseball. And the Mariner front office is the driving force behind this bonanza. They issue the directives, spend the scouting dollars, and make the final calls on the big contracts to foreign stars like Campillo and Betancort.
Q: What is Campillo doing now?
A: At the moment, he is pitching Mexico to, apparently, a Caribbean Series title. On Feb. 6th, he blew down Puerto Rico with an 8-inning shutout in which only one batter reached second base.
The Caribbean Series is peppered with major-league talent; Campillo's own team features Vinny Castilla and Eurebiel Durazo. Miguel Tejada is playing in this Series. Other MLB greats to have played in past Caribbean Series include Willie Mays, Ricky Henderson, Roberto Clemente, Sammy Sosa, Pedro Martinez, Ken Caminiti, Ruben Gomez and Mexico's own Fernando Valenzuela.
Campillo in '04 (Getty)
Q: Any other dweeby D-O-V factoids to get a handle on this amigo?
A: Sal Maglie, pitching star for the ‘50's San Francisco Giants, is a guy that Bill James once plumped for, as the historical precedent to Jamie Moyer.
Maglie spent years as a meatball and then, suddenly, emerged as an MLB great despite his meatball stuff.
Maglie credited it to pitching in Mexico. According to the Barber, when he pitched at 7,000 feet one winter, he was forced to snap his curves off so hard that when he returned to the States, he'd come up with a "You Gotta Be Kidding Me" hook.
When Campillo pitches in the mysteriously friction-y air at Safeco, he'll feel like a track star who just shucked off his running parachute.
Q: So this could be a Madritsch-, Sherrill- type find?
A: Madritsch and Sherrill had nowhere near the pedigree that this amigo does. If you've liked the Indy League finds of the last few years, then you know Jorge Campillo is your new Adopt-A-Player. Be the first on your block to get one, kiddies.
Q: Does He Rate the Twist-and-Shout List?
A: Ron Villone, Ryan Anderson, and Dan Reichert didn't make D-O-V's traveling squad for the March rotation. But Jorge Campillo does, amigo. He's #10, ahem, #7 on the Twist and Shout list behind the first five and King Felix. B'lee Dat!
Q: Predictions for Campillo?
A: Be alert. Be very alert.
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