The story of Everett AquaSox Isaiah Campbell

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Photo Credit: Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Isaiah Campbell arrived in Everett, Washington to play for the Everett AquaSox during the summer of 2019.  The 6-foot-4 right-hander was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 2nd round of the 2019 MLB First-Year Player Draft (3rd overall behind current teammates George Kirby and Brandon Williamson).  We didn’t know much about this young man except at that time Isaiah was pitching in the College World Series for the University of Arkansas and he had an incredible college baseball season.  Would this be another gem found by Seattle Mariners organization?

Isaiah was born in Portugal in 1997, grew up in Germany and then Turkey before his family settled down in Kansas.  His Father Parry was in the Air Force and served our country for 20 years.  While living in Kansas, he realized his passion was for baseball and his hard work (including being part of the national honors society) lead him to the University of Arkansas where he had a successful journey on and off the field before he was drafted by the Seattle Mariners.  Isaiah is currently pitching out of the bullpen and has a 3-1 record with a 2.33 ERA.  Opponents are hitting .194 and he is averaging a strikeout per inning when he is on the mound.  We at the Seattle Sports Union recently were able to sit down with the 23-year-old Isaiah Campbell and got to learn a little more about this nice young man.

SSU: Thank you for agreeing to interview with us today.  We genuinely appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule. 

IC: Thank you for having me.  It is my pleasure.

SSU: Before I get into questions about Isaiah Campbell, I must bring up this past Friday night.  You pitched yourself into a jam with runners on 2nd and 3rd with only one out.  It looked like the opposing team was going to have a big inning but no.  It seemed like you kept your cool and did not let it get to you.  You proceeded to strike out the next two batters to get out of the inning.  I was like “WOW” from my seat and so were the fans around me.  Nice job Isaiah.  Would you care to discuss that moment?

IC: Thank you, that is nice to hear.  You cannot let it get to you and must keep battling, which I did.  I trusted my pitches and my teammates and fortunately I was able to set them up for my out pitch to strike them both out.  My out pitch being my slider.

SSU: There is lots of information about Isaiah Campbell on the internet, but we wanted to meet you and hear what you had to say.  So, thank you again.  I was told that you were born in Portugal and spent time in Germany and Turkey growing up?  I have talked with your father on social media briefly.  He is nice to talk with.  Would you care to elaborate on your time overseas?

IC: That is true, thanks for asking.  He is a great Dad and thanks for the nice words.  I was born in a place called Angra do Heroismo on Terceira Island in the Azores.  They are a set of small islands about 1000 miles from Portugal.  My Father was in the Air Force, and we were stationed there.  After there we moved on to Germany and Turkey before settling in Olathe, Kansas.

SSU: When did you start playing baseball and why?  Did you have a favorite player growing up and team that you followed?

IC: Believe it or not, baseball was not my first choice.  I loved basketball and played that passionately growing up.  Baseball I started playing around the age of 5.  I started playing tee-ball in Germany on the base.  In high school I realized baseball was the way to go.  I played pitcher and first base, but pitching was what I wanted to do.

Believe it or not, Albert Pujols was my favorite player growing up, why I do not know.  Growing up in Kansas I followed the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals.  Pujols was with the Cardinals then.  I even wore the same number as him, number 5, when I was playing.

SSU: What did you like to do when you were not playing baseball growing up?  How about now?

IC: Growing up I played a whole lot of video games.  I also spent my time hanging out with the boys and played basketball whenever I could.

Nowadays when I am not playing baseball, I still love to play video games and go golfing with the guys.  I do not have a handicap, but that does not matter to me.  Being able to go out with the guys and having fun is what matters to me.

SSU:  Why Arkansas?  I am sure many schools were after you?

IC:  Growing up 20 minutes from the University of Kansas, the Jayhawks were my team, but then Arkansas came calling.  I went for my visit to their university and fell in love with it right away.  The facilities, the people and the atmosphere were things that stood out.  The day after I visited, I signed on with Arkansas to become a Razorback.

SSU: What did you major in at the University of Arkansas? 

IC: I started out in Biochemistry but eventually majored in Criminal Justice with a minor in Biochemistry.

SSU: In 2018 you were drafted in the 24th round by the Angels.  Why didn’t you sign with them after a successful 3 years in Arkansas?

IC:  There are a few reasons why I chose to go back to school.  I knew I had more to prove.  I was hurt most of my sophomore year, so in 2018 I had a good season but knew I could do better.  I wanted to improve my chances in the draft by working on my mechanics.  I knew I was not ready yet and since I had another year of eligibility, why not.  I also knew I was not ready for the professional life just yet.  By going back, it helped me grow as a man on and off the field.  I also wanted another chance on making it to the College World Series.  We came so close in 2018, and you know what!  We made it to the College World Series in 2019.  How cool is that.

SSU: It paid off for you.  12-1 record with a 2.13 ERA and you made it back to the World Series.  Nice job to you.  Do you have any college moments you would like to share with your fans?

IC: Of course, making it to back-to-back College World Series in Omaha was something I will never forget, not too many make it twice during their college careers.  Another moment was in 2019, I was pitching in the super regionals against Ole Miss and had one of my best outings ever.  I received an ovation that I will never forget, even got to tip my hat to the fans.

SSU: In 2019 the Seattle Mariners made you their 3rd pick of the MLB Draft.  They picked you 76th overall in the 2nd round.  Where were you and what was your reaction?

IC: We had just qualified for the Super Regionals, so I was at home that day in Kansas watching with my family.  When my name was shown on television being drafted, I was thrilled.  Seeing my parents’ reaction will be something I will never forget.  I heard rumors that the Mariners were interested in me.  That I was coming into a good organization with lots of great things happening made it even better.  God had a plan for me to be drafted and I am truly thankful.

SSU: Once the college season was over and you signed your name on the dotted line, the Mariners sent you to Everett.  They did not allow you to play though.  Why was that and what did you do to keep in shape then?

IC: The reason I did not get to pitch was that I threw too many innings during the college season (118 1/3 to be exact) so they wanted to rest my arm.  I was fortunate to play catch with the pitching coach every day and had a regular workout routine.  Also, being able to be around a great group of ballplayers throughout the summer was a great learning experience for me.

SSU: What was your first impression of Everett when you arrived?  What do you think of the AquaSox fans?  Have you got used to the rain?

IC: I thought it was a great little city.  The Pacific Northwest is beautiful.  Coming from Kansas, this is a way different experience for me you can imagine.  I love it here, nice change of life.  It really has not rained much since I have been here so I cannot really say.

The Fans are amazing and supportive.  2019 I got to at least be a part of this team and city.  The crowd noise was phenomenal.  The atmosphere they create is amazing, especially on a Friday night.  It is terrible that we cannot fill the stadiums right now, I get it, but with fans in the stands it makes us a better ballclub.

SSU:  2020, the pandemic hit our world.  What did Isaiah Campbell do in regard to playing baseball?

I played at the Mariners alternate site in Tacoma for a bit.  Otherwise, when I was not at the alternate site, I was either at home in Kansas with my family or at the University of Arkansas.  I was able to workout at both places and have a regular routine to keep in baseball shape.

SSU: You are assigned back to Everett again in 2021, yet they are now in High A baseball.  Everett is loaded with starting pitchers; do you mind that you’re pitching out of the bullpen?  Do you have a different daily routine because of it?

IC: We have 8 true starting pitchers including myself on this roster, so 2 of us happened to fall into the bullpen.  We are still treated like a starter, and I will do whatever the team needs me to do.  I still have the same daily regime as the “starting six”.

SSU: I am curious how many pitches do you throw?

IC: I currently have four pitches; a fastball, a curveball, a slider, and a changeup.  I also have a splitter but have not used it this year by choice.  My coaches agreed and to focus on the four that I mentioned.

SSU: Describe in so many words your opinion of these 3 teammates: Catcher Carter Bins, Manager Louis Boyd, and Pitching Coach Sean McGrath.

IC: Carter Bins – He is a great guy; in fact, he is one of my best friends.  I love pitching to him, he and I have great rapport together.  He calls a good game.  I cannot complain 😊.

Louis Boyd – He is a great manager.  Louis is an awesome human being and treats us well.  He always has our back and is a player’s manager.

Sean McGrath – Everyone on the team calls him “Meat”, why I do not know.  He is awesome to work with.  Every day he takes his job serious as our pitching coach while having fun with us doing it.

SSU: Last question and thank you again for making time to do this interview.  Who do you want to play Isaiah Campbell when they make your movie after you retire?

IC:  Great question!  Let me think about that for a minute.  Let’s go with “The Rock, Dwayne Johnson”.  That would be my personal choice to play Isaiah Campbell when they make my movie.  Thanks for having me today, I deeply appreciate it.  Have a good night.


Isaiah Campbell, we cannot wait to see you in a Major League Uniform in the next few years young man.  What a pleasure it was to get to know you.  Once an AquaSox, always an AquaSox.  The city of Everett will always be here for you.  Best of luck!


Go Frogs!


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