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Campbell proving his worth in utility role for Mets

Campbell proving his worth in utility role for Mets play video for Campbell proving his worth in utility role for Mets

NEW YORK -- Thirteen-year Major League outfielder Andy Van Slyke once said, "Every season has its peaks and valleys. What you have to do is eliminate the Grand Canyon."

Mets utility man Eric Campbell agrees with that logic.

"Baseball is always a game of streaks, and I've been on a good one lately," Campbell said before Thursday's series finale against the Atlanta Braves. "You just try to keep those hot streaks as long as you can and those cold streaks as short as you can."

Campbell's streak has been especially hot, as he's hit .424 over his last 10 games with a .987 OPS. This has contributed to Campbell's .337 batting average for 2014. That's not bad for a guy getting his first taste of the Majors.

With David Wright back from a shoulder injury, Campbell hasn't been in the starting lineup all too often, recently. But that doesn't bother him. In fact, he attributes much of his success to his role as a pinch-hitter, noting that manager Terry Collins has put him in situations against left-handed pitchers that have allowed him to succeed.

Campbell has hit particularly well against power pitchers this season, batting .556 against them with a 1.331 OPS, according to BaseballReference.com. Power pitchers are defined by the website as pitchers in the top third of the league in strikeouts plus walks, which usually means they throw hard.

When asked about his success against them this season, Campbell said, "I think it's because I keep my swing simple. I don't have a whole lot of movement. I always try to keep myself timed up to the fastball, and I think my hands are quick enough to where it allows me to catch up to some of those mid-90 guys.

"Sometimes, those guys are better to face than the guys that can spot up four pitches for strikes," he added.

While Campbell's natural position is third base, he's seen time at each of the four corner spots (first base, third base, right field, and left field). That's made him particularly useful, as Wright and outfielders Eric Young Jr. and Juan Lagares have all missed time to injury since Campbell's Major League debut on May 10. Versatility is something Campbell only picked up since he was drafted, but it has paid off.

When he was called up to the big leagues, Campbell found a familiar face in fellow Connecticut native Matt Harvey. Campbell, who played at Norwich Free Academy and Boston College, became teammates with his former ACC rival Harvey, who attended Fitch Senior High School in Groton, Conn., and the University of North Carolina.

Campbell says he faced Harvey twice in high school and twice in college.

"He's always been one of the better guys in the area, and the ACC, so he's always been a tough matchup for any team," said Campbell of last year's National League All-Star starter.

Campbell had high praise for his coach at Boston College, Mik Aoki. After producing only one Major Leaguer between 1964 and 2009, there have been five former Eagles to make it to The Show in the past six seasons.

Campbell believes Aoki, now with Notre Dame, was a major factor in the recent surge of players coming out of the school, which is located in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

"A lot of it has to do with Coach Aoki. He is obviously a good recruiter. He finds talent. ... Obviously it's tough to compete recruiting-wise with the Carolinas and Florida States, but he seems to find those guys -- whether they're northern, or they're not as popular, I guess you can say, as the big names. He does a good job of developing them."

Aoki certainly did a good job helping to develop Campbell, who made it to the Major Leagues after almost six full years in the Minors. And with the job he's done thus far, it looks like Campbell could stay for a while longer.

Steven Jacobson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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