For those keeping an eye on Luis Campusano – and there are many, it’s not a question of whether he will go to the majors, but when.
The Cross Creek junior who catches for the Varsity baseball team is already gaining the attention of various scouts around the country.
Just last week, a recruiting coordinator from the University of Missouri made a stop here to check out Campusano’s playing, before heading down to Florida to catch the university’s game with the Gators.
“That’s pretty big: a Midwest school coming south to see a kid,” says Cross Creek Baseball Coach Tavis Cummings. “I’ve heard from Miami, Clemson, Georgia, Kentucky, Georgia Southern, Kennesaw State.”
Campusano has also caught the attention of local media.
Sports writer David Lee of The Augusta Chronicle effused: “Campusano already has a natural catcher’s body with a thick, strong trunk, strong legs and broad upper half. He’s already a physically gifted athlete with the chance to get much stronger, which is scary considering his present strength at his age.”
Yet colleges, though interested, have been slow to make offers to Campusano. Not because they see something they don’t like, but because they feel the player is destined for bigger things.
“As far as major league talent, the evaluators have already slated him as a pro prospect,” Cummings says. “Somebody’s texting or calling me pretty much every day. But I talked to a couple of scouts. He’s not really being recruited very heavily by colleges, mainly because they feel they’re not going to be able to get him. ”
Cummings says scouts have pegged Campusano as a future Top 10 round draft pick for the majors.
“So when you’ve got a kid in the Top 10 rounds, he’s not going to college,” Cummings says. “You’re looking at half a million to 2 million dollars signing bonus, just depending on where you are. And then they will pay for you in your contract to go back to school.”
It would be easy to see all this attention quickly going to the head of a high school student who still has a year to go before graduation.
But Campusano takes the attention with a humble grace.
“I think it’s pretty humbling that my name’s a little bit out there,” says Campusano, sitting in the dugout of Cross Creek’s baseball field, while taking a break from helping prep the field for a JV game. “I want to get it out there a little bit more.”
It’s typical for Campusano to be helping out. He supports the JV team as much as his own, Cummings says.
“At the beginning of the year, it’s cold, you know, 30 mile an hour winds, 40 degrees, and he’s following us around to every game,” Cummings says. “He goes to every JV game. We play at home, he’s at every game.”
That dedication also extends to Campusano’s own training.
“There will be some games where, even though I have a good game, I still like to go back home and hit,” Campusano says. “We put lights in my batting cage and I just hit. I try to take breaks, but I just can’t. I just have to keep getting better.”
Does he have hobbies or other interests?
“No,” Campusano says emphatically. “It’s just practice. If I’m not working, there’s somebody else out there working.”
Campusano’s pro ball idol is Albert Pujols, a Dominican-American first baseman for the Los Angeles Angels.
“He was just always a hard worker,” Campusano says. “He’s just always been a favorite player of mine just because of the numbers he puts up. He’s very consistent, He’s more than a power-hitter. He hits for average, slugs, he can pretty much do everything. His defense is very good. And I just want to be that player. I want to be just like him.”
But Campusano’s real role model is his father, Genaro Campusano, who played minor league baseball with the Pirates in the 1990s. Though retired from the game, Campusano’s father plays a big role in his son’s training.
“He’s my biggest influence, because he worked hard every day,” Campusano says. “I want to be like that. He never pushed me. He placed me in recreation and that’s just how it started. But ever since then I just wanted to keep getting better and better. He’s never asked me to hit. I’ve just always wanted to hit.”
Campusano wouldn’t be the first Cross Creek student to go the majors.
In 2005, student Jon Egan was drafted in the second round by the Boston Red Sox as an Aflac All-America player, receiving a $625,000 signing bonus.
Egan’s professional career was derailed, however, after the catcher’s performance suffered from a series of poor choices, including an arrest for cocaine and driving while intoxicated, according to media reports.
“Egan was a studly athlete, strong, tall, about 6-foot-3,” recalls Girls Basketball Coach Kim Schlein. “He could hit and he could kill the ball. If Egan had the work ethic that Luis had, this kid would have been phenomenal. Luis’s following along the same path, as far as athletics. But Luis’s a junior. He’s still got another year to go and get better. And this kid, the way he works at it, the sky’s the limit.”
Campusano says he doesn’t have any unusual rituals or routines to help him get ready for a game.
But there is something he has to have.
“I always tell my dad to bring my Hubba Bubba gum,” Campusano says. “It just relaxes me. That’s pretty much what I do. It’s just simple.”
Cummings thinks Campusano’s position as catcher gives him an upper hand in terms of draft prospects.
“Catchers are in high demand. It’s hard to find a good catcher,” Cummings says. “But the thing about Louis is he’s not only a good catcher, but he’s a good hitter as well. He can do both. He hits for power, and you just can’t find power-hitting guys anymore.”
Campusano currently has a batting average of .487 and an on-base percentage of .585, according to MaxPreps.
Though he is enticed by the idea of being chosen by a major league team, Campusano is not getting ahead of himself, choosing instead to take a wait-and-see approach.
It’s an approach he says his parents support.
“I just want to play ball,” Campusano says. “If I get drafted and if I can have a good draft or good money, and I know it has big league potential of making it, I’m going to sign. But if it’s not, I’m going to wait a little bit and go to college and just improve my game a little bit.
“It’s just all on me. It’s my decision. Whatever my decision is they’ll go with it.”