Campos Getting Back On Track

Tampa, FL – Starting pitcher Jose "Vicente" Campos made his Tampa Yankee debut last Friday night and his third official rehab start overall. Having yet to complete a full season in his professional career, Campos looks to get his career back on track after many viewed him as a top prospect to watch and everyone believes he is ahead of schedule right now.

The big 6-foot-4 right-hander, still just 23 years old, is actually in his seventh professional season after missing the entire 2014 campaign with the surgery. He was released from the 40-man roster in the offseason due to the injury and the Yankees need for those valuable roster spots, but was able to re-sign with them.

He resumed throwing off a mound in early February right before the beginning of Spring Training and finally able to face batters once again in games by mid-April in Extended Spring Training, starting with throwing one inning and building up his work load from there. It eventually led to his first official rehab start in the Gulf Coast League on June 22nd where he threw 4 2/3 innings, surrendering eight hits and three earned runs, and striking out five batters.

He made one more rehab start in the Gulf Coast League, tossing five shutout innings and striking out nine batters, before moving up to high-A Tampa last week.

“He’s going to be on a pitch and inning limit to make sure he doesn’t get over-worked coming back from his injury," Tampa Yankees manager Dave Bialas said. "He’s looking at about five innings or a 70-pitch limit, and I don’t know if they’ll increase that limit at all.”

Campos was solid in his high-A debut against Clearwater last Friday, allowing just two earned runs on four hits in five innings [his second straight start pitching five innings], and it was the third straight game where he didn't walk a batter.

After missing a whole season to injury you’d expect there to be a lot of rust for him to shake off in his first few starts, especially considering that command, breaking balls specifically, is usually the last thing to really come back. But from what pitching coach Tommy Phelps has seen so far it looks like Campos has already shaken off the rust.

“He looked great the other night," Phelps said. "He attacked the zone with his fastball, his changeup was effective and threw it for strikes, and he threw some good curveballs in there too.

"Usually when guys come back from that type of surgery, missing so much time, they don’t look as sharp as he did. But overall he had a good outing, he was solid with his control and he was able to use his other pitches.”

His velocity hovered around 89-91 mph most of the game which was below his usual pre-surgery velocity but that is to be expected so early in his rehab process. The velocity on his fastball should come back to him as he builds up more stamina throughout the rest of the season, but that isn't the main concern for the coaching staff right now.

“Stay healthy and pitch every fifth day," Phelps said of the plan for Campos. "Then we’ll build it from there and hopefully he’ll keep developing as a player.”

Campos himself isn't worried about the velocity right now either. Sometimes the hardest part for a pitcher having Tommy John surgery is the boredom of recovering and not being able to do anything baseball related. Pitchers sometimes talk about it being hard not being there for the team and having to watch from afar.

“It was tough, very frustrating, to miss an entire year especially when coming off a season where I felt I threw very well, but it’s something I can’t worry about cause I can’t control it," Campos said through the help of a translator. "I just had to bear with and just tough it out.

"I’m just really excited and ready to go. I’m glad to be over here with this team and I am finally ready to get out there and pitch.”

There have been specific cases when some pitchers come back from Tommy John surgery pitching better than before and Campos thinks he’s going to be one of those pitchers, hoping to finish the rest of the season on a high note.

“I feel better than when I last pitched in 2013 for Charleston. I feel 100 percent. I’ve had the whole offseason to recuperate and get ready and now I feel the best I’ve felt in a very long time,” Campos concluded.

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