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Meet The New Guy: Isaiah Campbell

He looks like a lockdown reliever, at least.

Who is he and where did he come from?

He’s Isaiah Campbell, and he’s from Portugal! And by Portugal I’m not talking about Fall River, here, but the actual Portugal on the other side of the ocean. His father was stationed there while in the Air Force (sure beats South Dakota), and he was born in the Azorean city of Angra do Heroísmo. That literally translates to “Bay of Heroism,” so my expectations will be pretty high the next time he comes in to face the heart of the order with two on and nobody out in the eighth. The Red Sox just acquired him from the Seattle Mariners for Luis Urias.

What position does he play?

He’s a relief pitcher. My expectations probably wouldn’t be as high if were coming in to face the heart of the order with two out and nobody on and he was, like, a fourth outfielder or something.

Is he any good?

It’s hard to say for sure, owing to the fact that he doesn’t have much of a track record yet, but he looks promising. Campbell has pitched just 28.2 Major League innings in his career, having made his debut last July. Prior to that, he was a four-year college pitcher who missed significant time due to Tommy John surgery, and then spent an additional two-and-a-half years in the minors, so it’s not like he’s some young phenom (he’ll be 26 on Opening Day).

But having said that, the 28.2 innings he pitched last year were pretty good ones. He gave up just two homers and struck out 33 hitters while posting a 2.83 ERA. He throws a mid-90s fastball, a slider, and a sweeper, with the slider being a very effective wipeout pitch that yielded just a .137 batting average and .157 slugging percentage against. Where he struggled last year was with control, as he walked over four batters-per-nine-innings. But what’s notable about that number is that it represented a marked jump from his time in the minors, where he kept that number down to 2.5 over the course of 89.1 innings. If he can figure out how to keep getting hitters out while limiting the free passes, he can turn into a very effective late-inning reliever for the foreseeable future.

Show me a cool highlight.

Like a lot of relievers, he was a starter while in college. Here he is impressing Eduardo Perez with his slider as he strikes out 10 Florida State hitters in the College World Series.

What’s he doing in his picture up there?

Trying very hard to look like one of those hard-throwing, borderline-psychotic relievers you see in the movies, and succeeding. If his personality matches his facial hair and he’s any good at all, we could have a fan favorite on our hands.

What’s his role on the 2024 Red Sox?

He’ll immediately slot in as a high-leverage guy along with Chris Martin and Josh Winckowski. Hopefully he can stick in that role all season.