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Yankees 2015 Roster Report Card: Vicente Campos

Jose? Vicente? Whatever he wants to call himself, the results absolutely weren't there for this recovering Yankees prospect.

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Grade: D-

2015 Statistics: High-A/GCL: 13 GS, 6.29 ERA, 7.5 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 54 1/3 IP

2016 Roster Status: Rookie; On the 40-man roster.

Once upon a time, Vicente Campos was considered a potential steal included in January 2012's Michael Pineda/Jesus Montero deal. The Venezuelan righty was signed for $115,000 at age 16 by the Mariners in 2009, and while he was still a teenager at the time of the trade, scouts thought that he had a bright future. Campos struck out 85 batters in 81 1/3 innings while sporting a 2.32 ERA and 2.79 FIP during the previous season in Low-A Everett. Current Astros Director of Pro Scouting Kevin Goldstein certainly thought he had potential:

Campos is a right-hander who provides plenty to dream on and ranked fifth on the Seattle Mariners prospect list. Just 19 years old, Campos is a big-bodied power pitcher who already can get into the mid-90s with his fastball, and unlike many high-ceiling prospects with his kind of size and arm strength, he has no issues with repeating his delivery and throwing strikes. He's still a long way from a finished product, though, as both his breaking ball and changeup lag well behind the heater, he'll only be making his full-season debut in 2012 for Low-A Charleston, and he’s at least three years away from the Bronx, so patience will be required in order to reap the rewards.

With Montero hitting well early in 2012 while Pineda went down with eventual shoulder surgery, Yankees fans desperately turned to Campos to help make the trade look a little bit better. It only took five starts in Charleston for the trouble to begin, as he was put on the shelf with "elbow inflammation" in early May. Campos never pitched again in 2012, and it was later revealed that he had suffered a small elbow fracture.

Analysts continued to be cautiously optimistic, as Campos was on many Yankees Top 10 Prospects lists over the next couple years. He had a healthy 2013 in his return to Charleston, when he had a 3.41 ERA, 3.11 FIP, and 77 strikeouts in 87 innings. It was a reduced workload, as the Yankees carefully monitored his innings per start in his recovery from the elbow injury. Unfortunately, their efforts were to no avail. Assigned to High-A Tampa at the beginning of 2014, Campos never made it out of spring training. He was officially placed on the DL with more elbow inflammation, and this time, the outcome was what fans all feared: Tommy John surgery.

Campos has understandably been somewhat forgotten since undergoing the procedure in April 2014, FanGraphs analyst Kiley McDaniel (now with the Braves) did not even include him in his massive 2015 preseason post on Yankees prospects, which featured over 60 names. McDaniel did reply to a comment asking about Campos, saying, "He could be a guy again, but the arm problems he was having before TJ caused his stuff and arm action to look more ordinary, and he never had a ton of feel. He’s a wait and see guy until we can get a look at the delivery/stuff post TJ."

It took Campos until June 22, 2015 to take the mound in a professional game again. He made two rehab starts in Rookie Ball before moving up to the Tampa Yankees in July. The 23-year-old simply did not look like the same pitcher he was before Tommy John. His control was fine, but opposing teams hit him around the ballpark, leading to an unsightly 7.09 ERA and 10.9 H/9 in 11 starts with the T-Yanks. Campos' season strikeout rate was inflated by his GCL starts, too; in High-A, his K/9 dipped to 6.2.

There just wasn't much from Campos to inspire confidence that he's anything but just another mildly interesting arm in the minors. The only reason he's not getting a failing grade is because this was his first year back from Tommy John, and pitchers frequently struggle with consistency as they get back into rhythm. Perhaps in 2016, Campos can find his form again and regain relevance. It's worth noting that the Yankees chose to put him on the 40-man roster rather than risk losing him to minor league free agency, so maybe they see that glimmer of hope as well. Until then though, he remains an afterthought.