Hits beginning to fall for Cutters’ Campbell

STATE COLLEGE – Derek Campbell kept creeping his way into the middle of the Williamsport Crosscutters’ lineup. Even as his batting average dipped under his listed weight of .175, there Campbell sat giving protection to clean-up hitter Rhys Hoskins.

So many times this early in the season the results aren’t necessarily what dictates how well or how poorly a player is playing. And Campbell, a 20th-round draft pick out of the University of California, has been playing very well since arriving in Williamsport. The infielder is finally starting to reap some of the rewards of the good days he’s put together.

Campbell went 2 for 5 in Saturday night’s win over State College, and since his batting average fell to a season-low .130 a week ago, Campbell is hitting .438 for the Crosscutters. The right-handed hitting Campbell is finally starting to get the positive results from an approach manager Shawn Williams had lauded through his struggles.

“All his at-bats have been good, and to have those balls fall through (Friday night) was big because he hit them well,” Williams said following a 3 for 4 night Friday for Campbell. “Just to see him go through and build off that is great. We’ll see what happens next.”

Philadelphia Phillies minor league hitting coordinator Andy Tracy mentioned during batting practice Friday how much enjoyed the way Campbell played the game. He called him a hustler who plays the game the right way.

Campbell holds a certain value to the Crosscutters’ roster. Beyond what he’s capable of doing with the bat in his hands, he’s capable of playing any position on the infield, save pitcher and catcher. He also spent some time in college playing in the outfield.

He’s an everyday type of player who can give a rest to Emmanuel Marrero at shortstop or third baseman Jan Hernandez. But Campbell, for now, has settled into his role as the Cutters’ starting second baseman. And stretches like his last four games where he’s 7 for 16, are only going to further prove that’s where he belongs.

“It’s great to have a guy like that,” Williams said. “It’s like having two more players on your team because he can play anywhere.”

SANDBERG RE-TURNS: Cord Sandberg returned to the lineup Sunday after getting his first day off of the season in Saturday’s game.

The 19-year-old outfielder carried a 13-game hitting streak into Thursday’s game where he went 0 for 3 with a pair of walks. His 14-game on-base streak was snapped the next night in State College after going 0 for 4.

Prior to Saturday, Sandberg had been the only Williamsport player to play in each of the Crosscutters’ games this season. His .317 batting average is still third-best on the team despite going 0 for his last 10.

BROWN MISSES ON AWARD: Kentucky’s A.J. Reed topped Aaron Brown, currently a center fielder for the Williamsport Crosscutters, to win college baseball’s John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year award Friday.

Reed finished the season with a .336 batting average with 23 home runs and 73 RBIs for the Wildcats. As a pitcher, he was 12-2 with a 2.09 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 112 innings pitched.

Brown, who was drafted in the third round as a center fielder by the Philadelphia Phillies, was 13-1 as a left-handed pitcher for Pepperdine with a 1.95 ERA with 104 strikeouts. Offensively, he hit .314 with a team-high 49 RBIs, including 13 home runs and 13 doubles.

ROSTER ADDITIONS: The Crosscutters added a pair of pitchers from the Gulf Coast League on Sunday. Second-round draft pick Matt Imhof was promoted after throwing three shutout innings in one appearance with the GCL Phillies, and fourth-round pick Chris Oliver was also promoted.

The left-handed Imhof was selected by the Phillies 47th overall by Cal Poly in this month’s draft. He led Division I baseball with 12.09 strikeouts per nine innings. He received a signing bonus of more than $1.1 million to join the Phillies.

Oliver is a right-hander out of Arkansas with a fastball which sat 94-97 at times during the spring. In two appearances for the GCL Phillies, Oliver allowed seven runs (five earned) in 3 2/3 innings.