We talk a lot about young players and future prospects on this blog but one guy who never gets mentioned is Tony Campana. It looks like I may have missed the boat on that one.
For Campana, however, it's business as usual.
At just 5'8" and 160 lbs, he has always been told that he wasn't big enough to succeed in baseball. First in high school, then it was thought he'd be too small to play college ball. But the doubters didn't stop there. People said he'd never get drafted. Of course, he did -- but not until the 13th round by the Cubs.
Being drafted in the 13th round out of college isn't exactly a formula for success in baseball. That's where organizational players get drafted -- the guys who are there to fill out spots on the minor league rosters. Nobody really expects them to actually make it to the big leagues, and rarely are they considered anything more than fringe prospects.
Baseball America didn't even rank him amongst the Cubs top 30 prospects this season, and with hot shot CF prospects like Brett Jackson, Matt Sczcur, and the recently traded Brandon Guyer who could blame them for losing the diminutive Campana in the crowd? The Cubs and Tony Campana, however, never doubted that he could make it. Campana made his way through the Cubs system showing speed and the ability to make consistent contact at each level.
And then opportunity knocked...
(Continued after the jump)
With the Cubs sudden rash of injuries to outfielders and Tyler Colvin's season long slump, the Cubs were suddenly short on flychasers. The guy who almost certainly would have gotten the call, Guyer, had been traded. The others, Jackson and Sczcur, simply weren't ready yet. Campana, meanwhile, was tearing it up in AAA. When the Cubs called for help, he was more than ready to answer.
It seemed it would be a short-term call-up - a band-aid to help the Cubs get through a rough patch without having to call up their big name prospects. But to Campana, it was his big chance. Once again, he has proved people wrong -- not just by making it to the bigs but actually sticking around and helping the team.
His speed has his manager and teammates in awe. Mike Quade called him the fastest player he's ever been around. And Quade has been around a long, long time. Geovanny Soto thinks he can beat him in a race -- albeit with a 3/4 of the way head start.
Campana has already helped the Cubs win games with his legs, including last night when he stretched a single into a double, then went to third on a sac fly before scoring on Castro's game-winning hit.
Few people are doubting his ability to play these days. And on a team woefully bereft of speed, Campana has singlehandedly made the Cubs more fun to watch on the basepaths. So while we're waiting for the Jackson's and the Sczcur's to someday inject speed and athleticism to an otherwise glacial lineup, we should be enjoying the excitement Campana has brought to the current team.
And lord knows we need some excitement on this team.