Kiwi baseball prospect switches to third base

Last updated 22:16 11/11/2008

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Toronto Blue Jays baseball prospect Scott Campbell's switch to the "hot corner" for the Arizona Fall League might yet become permanent.

The Blue Jays organisation asked the New Zealander to move to the unfamiliar position of third base for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the AFL, often a springboard to the major leagues.

Campbell, 24, has played nearly all his college and professional baseball at second base, including this regular season when he jumped up two levels to Double-A with Blue Jays farm team New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

He hit .302 with nine home runs for the Fisher Cats in the Eastern League, winning World Team selection for the Futures game at Yankee Stadium, and was named the club's Player of the Year.

Toronto's director of player development, Dick Scott, indicated that Campbell had "really surprised us offensively", and the outfit had now decided to test him further with the move to the other side of the infield.

"He's been playing it out here (Arizona) and he's acclimatising himself nicely. Defensively, he gets the job done. He's a max-effort guy defensively, but only because he lacks experience there," Scott told MLB.com website reporter Kevin Czerwinski.

"And the transition will help because his bat has been played everywhere he's been."

So far Campbell is hitting .297 through 37 AFL at-bats and has made six errors in the field in the course of the adjustment.

`He has a fine arm, plenty of strength," Scott said. "I think third base might be his best position down the road .... he has the chance to be a pretty good third baseman."

Campbell said yesterday on his MLB website blog that the change had been a little harder than he expected, with the difference in the throw. "But the biggest thing is every inning I get over the other side of the diamond, the closer I am to becoming comfortable."

According to Scott, the Aucklander could well make the Triple-A roster with its new Las Vegas 51s affiliate next year, but might need more seasoning before being considered for the big league team.

No New Zealand-born player has yet played in the majors, though Canterbury's Travis Wilson played three seasons at Triple-A level with the Atlanta Braves organisation. Incidentally, he was switched from third base to second fairly early in his pro career.

 

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