Name: Jose Campos
DOB: July 27, 1992
Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Slider.
Fastball. When Campos was first added to the organization back in 2012 he came with the reputation of being a plus fastball guy, one who'd sit 93-95 mph and top out at 97 mph pretty routinely. However, he was more of a 91-94 mph guy through his first three injury-marred seasons with the Yankees and didn't top out much higher than that but he did have very good command of his fastball. His ailing elbow finally required Tommy John surgery in 2014 and that plus velocity he was reported to have with the Mariners finally returned upon completion of his rehab last season. Now once again sitting 93-94 mph and topping back out at 97 mph with one of the easier and free deliveries around that helps him create a lot of deception too, the final piece in the fastball resurrecting puzzle is getting his once top-flight command back. That should come in time the further he gets away from his surgery.
Other Pitches. Even before his Tommy John surgery what made Campos stand out beyond the great fastball command was his above average curveball-changeup combination, two quality big league pitches that he could also throw for strikes consistently. The curveball in particular can show some plus potential on any given day and it's his main strikeout weapon. A power offering, it sits mostly in the 81-84 mph range with excellent late bite. His changeup is a bit harder, mostly sitting in the mid-80s, but also shows solid fade, depth, and deception, the kind that could develop a bit more as he throws it more. Like the curveball, it too has some ceiling left in it. Campos had been messing around with a slider before his Tommy John surgery and hasn't really broken it back out in games but given the high quality nature of his three main pitches, once the command comes fully back, the smart money says he will go back to working on further developing the slider down the road.
Pitching. While the stuff and command have fluctuated in his time in the Yankee organization as a result of his injuries what hasn't changed has been his approach; he is all business on the mound. Unflappable and even expressionless when he toes the rubber, he attacks batters consistently with strike-one pitches, gets ahead in counts consistently, limits the walks, and doesn't beat himself on the mound. Pitching with a stone-face, he is not afraid to pitch to contact at all and combining that with his innate strike-throwing ability he can be extremely efficient with his pitch counts. Ironically, while he has battled his health issues seemingly for four years now, they've all been related to the one now surgically repaired elbow. Otherwise, standing 6-foot-4 and very strong, he's actually quite durable and shows a lot of stamina when healthy.
Projection. With three above average or better big league pitches, a high level of pitch-ability, and one of the more professional demeanors anywhere at the minor league level, Campos has always had one of the safer projections as an eventual big league middle of the rotation starting pitcher [or better], especially given the above average or better command he had displayed prior to his Tommy John surgery. The slowly deteriorating elbow issue that finally succumbed to Tommy John surgery, however, inserted some cause for concern from a timetable standpoint and in that regard Campos is not fully out of the proverbial woods just yet. Command is usually the last thing to come back in the progression back from Tommy John surgery and Campos is no different. He will need to rediscover the great command he once had to fulfill his potential and that may take some time now that he has to harness the plus power he had lost for a few seasons. If he can make that next step in his development and start painting all four quadrants of the strike zone again with his now plus fastball his ceiling could be even higher. Time is not on his side though; signed to a minor league free agent contract, his leash with the Yankees will be shorter than ever.
ETA. 2017. We mentioned a year ago that 2015 would be his rehab season and that it would be 2016 when the Yankees would likely have to force-feed Campos up the minor league ladder to see what they've got with him long-term, and that's the likely scenario for this upcoming season. He should open up in Double-A Trenton and if the command is fully back he may not be long for the minor leagues. If it doesn't come back quickly, he may not be long for the Yankees. He will need immediate results in 2016 to remain a viable internal Yankee option going forward.