Who Is Isaiah Campbell, Pitcher Red Sox Acquired In Trade From Mariners?

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In the first notable move of their offseason, the Boston Red Sox acquired right-handed reliever Isaiah Campbell from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for infielder Luis Urías before Friday’s non-tender deadline.

The 26-year-old pitcher has quite the backstory that has taken him to Boston in the latest of stop of his career.

Beginning with a piece of baseball history, Campbell is just the second player to ever play in the major leagues after being born in Portugal. He joins Frank Thompson, who played one season in 1875.

In the United States, Campbell grew up playing baseball in Olathe, Kansas. After emerging as the No. 4 rated high school arm in the state, he took his talents to the college level at the University of Arkansas.

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Campbell was a hero on the 2018 Arkansas team that reached the final round of the College World Series before falling to a loaded Oregon State team with future big leaguers Adley Rutschman, Steven Kwan and Nick Madrigal.

The righty found his groove with the Razorbacks, particularly during a dominant 2019 season. In 18 starts, Campbell went 12-1 with a 2.73 ERA, striking out 125 batters with just 22 walks in 118 1/3 innings.

That season, Campbell helped lead Arkansas back to the College World Series. Though the Razorbacks lost their first two games which led to elimination in Omaha, Campbell dazzled in his start against Florida State. The righty tossed seven shutout innings, allowing just five hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts. The brilliant outing went to waste when Florida State scored a run off of the Arkansas bullpen for a 1-0 win.

After a legendary college career, the Seattle Mariners selected Campbell in the second round of the 2019 MLB Draft. After primarily starting, the Mariners shifted the right-hander to the bullpen in their farm system.

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The move paid off as Campbell never posted a season ERA over 3.00 during his two and a half seasons in the minor leagues over 89 1/3 innings.

The reliever made his MLB debut in July and began his tenure with five straight scoreless outings. By season’s end, Campbell showed he was more than capable of making an impact in the majors. He went 4-1 with a 2.83 ERA in 27 appearances while striking out over 10 batters per nine innings.

His fastball-breaking ball combination plays well against opposing hitters and his ability to strike batters out elevates his value to the Red Sox bullpen. Campbell’s walk rate did rise in the majors, but he was a mostly consistent strike-thrower in the minors, so that does not raise serious concern at the moment.

In an already talented bullpen, Campbell could emerge as an X-factor as Boston looks to snap a two-year postseason drought in 2024.

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