Have a week, Jacob Campbell!
The Janesville Craig graduate, now a junior catcher with the University of Illinois baseball team, went on a power surge last week that has catapulted him into the national spotlight.
In five games, Campbell went 10-for-23 with five home runs, 14 RBI and eight runs scored.
The five home runs came in consecutive games, giving him a team-leading total of eight for the season.
For his efforts, Campbell was one of 13 Division I players named to the Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week list. Right-handed pitcher Ryan Ramsey of Maryland earned the honor after throwing a perfect game against Northwestern.
Campbell was not even aware that he was nominated until Monday night, but said he was honored.
“I’m happy for the recognition, but I’m not putting too much weight into it,” Campbell said. “We have nine games left to play in the regular season, and I want to do all I can to help this team reach our goals. That was last week, and I’m on to this week.”
The Illini are 23-19 overall, including 12-6 in the Big Ten Conference. Illinois beat Indiana State 6-3 Tuesday in a nonconference game, with Campbell going 1-for-2 with a double, two runs scored and a sacrifice fly. For the season, he’s batting .293 with eight home runs, 40 RBI and 36 runs scored.
Campbell’s said the home run barrage last week was a direct reflection on his increased patience at the plate.
“More than anything, I was super locked-in each at-bat,” Campbell said. “It’s a matter of letting the game come to me and not trying to do too much. I never go to the plate thinking of hitting a home run.
“I try to stay focused and consistent with each at-bat. But I also know that it’s my last year playing with guys I’ve been with for three or four years, so I’m also trying to enjoy it and have fun.”
For the second consecutive year, the Major League Baseball draft will be a feature of All-Star Week, taking place in Los Angeles from July 17-19. The Draft Combine will be held June 14-20 at Petco Park in San Diego.
Campbell was drafted out of high school in 2018 by Chicago Cubs in the 36th round. Last week’s offensive onslaught can only help his status heading into this year’s draft. Campbell already is regarded as one of the top defensive catchers in the country and can now add some impressive offensive statistics. He was the No. 8 catching prospect in the country coming out of high school and was ranked as the No. 13 MLB draft prospect in the Big Ten by Baseball America.
Although Campbell is likely to hear his name called on Day Two or Day Three of the draft, he knows a strong postseason run by the Illini will help keep his mind off of it.
“I’ll worry about the draft when the time comes, but right now it’s all about this team and my teammates,” Campbell said. “We’re kind of outside looking in right now when it comes to the (NCAA) Tournament.
“But we know when things are clicking for us, we can play with anybody. If we can do some damage in the conference tournament, we could still earn an automatic bid and not have to worry about whether we get selected as an at-large team or not.”
And if Jacob Campbell keeps stringing together powerhouse at-bats such as the ones he posted last week, the Illini might do just that.