Detroit Tigers Top 20 Prospects: No. 19 Roberto Campos.

Roberto Campos is “The International Man of Mystery” of the Detroit Tigers organization. He’s been paid a lot of money but has only operated in the shadows.

Welcome to the first-ever installment of the Motor City Bengals Top 20 Detroit Tigers prospects. The MCB staff has compiled our prospect lists and we will be releasing our consensus rankings, along with a breakdown of each player, in a series of articles in the coming days. Today we cover number 19 and look at the bits and pieces known about outfielder Roberto Campos.

The Arrival

Campos seemingly parachuted in from Cuba out of nowhere in 2019. The Tigers suddenly announced they’d signed the sixteen-year-old out of former Tiger Alex Sanchez’ training complex in the Dominican Republic for the princely sum of $2.85M.

What do we know about him? Well…not a lot. We know there is a kid not yet 18 who has movie-star good looks showing up in the occasional workout wearing a Tigers cap in pictures. If anyone looks like a ballplayer and also a budding super suave James Bond secret agent, it’s the 6’3”/200-lb Roberto Campos.

Is Campos the next 007 of the baseball diamond? Or is he an Austin Powers farce destined for the footnote status?

Let‘s be honest…we don’t have a clue. We’re operating on blind faith and giving the Tigers talent evaluators the benefit of the doubt until we actually see Campos play in a game. As in any game. Anywhere.

Campos and his family stayed in the Dominican after he was named the MVP of a youth tourney as part of a Cuban contingent at age 14. He entered Sanchez’s facility and got noticed by the Tigers and seemingly few others.

Campos was a complete unknown. Listed nowhere among the names on the common lists of anticipated signees on the international market. Yet there he was…inking a huge deal with Detroit. The largest the Tigers had ever bestowed upon a Caribbean youngster. One had to believe the Tigers saw something worth paying a premium to acquire.

Roberto Campos Strengths

Right now we’re being told Campos is a good athlete with excellent power potential. We haven’t seen it obviously. He literally hasn’t faced a pitch thrown with competitive malice since that youth tourney in 2016.

Dick Vitale would say he’s an “All Airport Team” guy right now. He looks like a stud standing in line at the airport. Will Campos match it once he’s on the field? The Tigers made a non-insignificant $2.85M bet that Campos’ youthful athleticism will blossom into a young adult ready to go run down balls in the outfield and launch them deep into the night sky as a hitter.

There is no reason to doubt it right now until Campos shows up this year. Likely to start in the DSL, he’ll get the long-awaited and plainly much-needed game action where some evaluation can start to take place beyond the whispers from the shadows.

Roberto Campos Weaknesses

Campos’ strengths mostly come from being unknown and unseen. Truth be told, that’s his set of weaknesses too. We don’t know much and this space won’t spend a lot of time trying to convince anyone we have Campos’ future nailed down.

We know he was a third-baseman but has been said to be transitioning to playing the outfield. There could be lots of reasons for that and not all of them are negative.

It’s going to be very fun and enlightening to monitor his progress in ‘21 after the long lay-off from competitive baseball. His weaknesses will be exposed because that’s what baseball does to everybody.

Is he patient or aggressive? Can he catch up to a heater? Does he need Jobu to help him hit a curveball? We don’t know, but we can’t wait to find out.

Our Take on Roberto Campos

The best thing about Campos right now is the mystery surrounding him. It’s tantalizing to look at the big signing bonus, the Cuban youth baseball upbringing, the physical growth, and the unique lack of competitive action and just dream he’s the next Miguel Cabrera or Orlando Cepeda.

Certainly, he could be the next Barbaro Garbey as well. No one knows and few are even claiming to have a good idea. We’re all on this magical mystery ride together.

Let your imagination run wild. Think of Campos as the next star of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise where he’s stealing state secrets and fighting terrorists in the off-season while hitting 25 homers with a .400 OBP during the season.

Most prospects fail. If you want to be consistently right in an easy fashion, just predict they’ll all fail and your batting average will be high. But give Campos his time to prove himself. It might fall into place for the Tigers.

Campos gets our number 19 slot based mainly on the mysterious back-story and the eye-popping bonus. The rubber meets the road this summer.