Yesterday we started the top 20 of our MCB Top 30 Detroit Tigers prospects for 2024 with RHP Dylan Smith, and now we continue with OF Roberto Campos, who comes in at No. 19.
It's been quite the road for Campos. He was a bit of mystery after receiving a team-record $2.85 million signing bonus in 2019. What made him a mystery is that he basically had the next two years off, due in large part because of the pandemic in 2020.
Campos finally got his first taste of professional baseball in 2021, where he hit eight homers in 39 games in rookie ball. He got a little bit of time in spring training in 2022, and hit an opposite field homer late in spring that had Tigers fans very excited.
He spent all of 2022 in Low-A Lakeland, and it was an interesting year for him. He slashed .258/.326/.385 with just five home runs in 112 games. The power that he was known for since he signed just wasn't there. There isn't a lot of data availavle from Lakeland, but the word was he was hitting the ball hard, but he kept beating it into the ground.
Last season in High-A West Michigan was not much better. He slashed .257/.313/.395 with, again, just five dingers. What might be even more concerning is that he seemed lost in the outfield at times. There were times where he would just misplay a routine fly ball. He had five errors in total, which is a lot for an outfielder. Four of those errors came when he played centerfield, and he had one in right field. Right field seem like the best fit for him long term because he does have a strong arm.
Here's what MLB Pipeline has to say about Campos as a prospect:
"Though Campos was billed as a budding young slugger upon signing, his pro career to date has been a bit of a departure. He hits balls hard, but more for line drives and grounders than fly balls, and toward the middle of the field. He actually hit as many triples as homers (five) while collecting 26 doubles in 2022. He also impressed by keeping a relatively low strikeout rate despite a long swing and a tendency to chase pitches outside the zone. Scouts expect more power as he matures and learns to lift the ball a little more. He’s athletic and instinctive enough to play center field in the Minors, but projects to move into a corner spot where his arm could play."- MLB Pipeline
Campos has undergone quite the transition since the Tigers signed him. At first, his swing was too long, so they tried to shorten it up a bit, but they shortened it up a bit too much, as evidenced by the elevated groundball rate in 2022. Last season, the groundball rate dipped 4%, and the flyball rate went up almost 11%, but the quality of contact just wasn't there as the season went on. It hasn't been all there for him so far in his young career.
In a way, Campos is in a similar position as Cristian Santana. Both received large signing bonuses as international prospects. Both are still young — Campos will turn 21 in June. And both have been relatively disappointing so far.
But much like Santana, it's still too early to write him off, especially given his youth. He'll still be younger than average compared to his High-A competition for much of 2024. However, we still need to see something from him this year. After all, this will be his third full season of pro ball.
Campos was No. 10 on our list last season. He drops to No. 19 this year because, while his upside is still high, it feels like he's hit a snag is his development. We all know development is not linear, but we need to see some kind of step forward this season.