06/07/2004 3:09 PM ET
Braves draft Campbell at No. 71
Indiana product projected to be slugging third baseman
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- In general manager John Schuerholz's mind, the Braves received a talented, already proven pitcher in the first round of Monday's First-Year Player Draft.
But in actuality, the Braves' first selection in this year's draft was Eric Campbell, a product of Gibson Southern High School in Owensville, Ind., who is projected to be a third baseman. He was a power-hitting shortstop throughout most of his high school career.
"He's a Matt Williams-type with upside," Braves director of scouting Roy Clark said. "He's a big power-hitting third baseman, who plays the game the way it's supposed to be played. He's our type of guy and we're proud to have in our organization."
Campbell, who is 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, was taken at the end of the second round with the 71st overall selection. The Braves lost their first-round pick when in December, they opted to sign John Thomson, who had been offered arbitration by the Rangers.
"I'll take John Thomson as my first-round pick any day," said Schuerholz, who in past years, surrendered first-round picks to acquire Terry Pendleton and Greg Maddux via free agency.
Louisiana State center fielder John Holt was the Braves' choice at No. 101, the final pick of the third round. Atlanta plans to play 5-foot-10, 172-pound Holt at second base.
Campbell was at an tournament in Albequerque, N.M., when he learned that the organization he has considered to be his favorite throughout his childhood had selected him with their first selection.
"It couldn't have worked out any better," Campbell said. "Last night, we had a guest speaker, Steve Garvey, who said he was fortunate that his favorite team, the Dodgers, drafted him. I guess that story carried over to me this year."
Campbell was wearing a Braves T-shirt on Monday afternoon, while sitting among a group of other draft hopefuls that were playing in the same tournament.
"I guess it would have looked a little bit funny if somebody else would have drafted me," said the 18-year-old Campbell, who hit .506 with 12 home runs and 33 RBI in 29 high school games this year.
Campbell is just the second non-pitcher the Braves have selected with their top overall pick in the past seven drafts. The organization's current top prospect is third baseman Andy Marte, who should begin his promising big league career in Atlanta by at least the start of next year.
Some scouts believe Campbell could one day be a second baseman. Reports say his arm is average and he doesn't have the mobility to be a shortstop at the professional level.
While stating that his arm is better than some reports have indicated, Campbell believes there is a chance he'll end up being a second baseman at the Major League level.
"If I get bigger and stronger, I'll play third," Campbell said. "If I stay where I'm at, I'll probably play second base."
Campbell was named Co-MVP of the WWBA World Senior Championship in Marietta, Ga., last summer and won the home run hitting contest at the AFLAC All-Star game.
"Roy Clark was there," Campbell said. "That was probably my solidification to being drafted this year. They usually give the MVP award to somebody from the winning team But I had six home runs in the tournament and nobody else had ever had more than four or something like. So I guess they felt they had to give it to me too."
Making Campbell even more appealing to the Braves was his signability factor. He said he expects to have a deal signed by Tuesday afternoon.
"I'm just looking forward to getting started," Campbell said. "This is something I've wanted for a long time."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.