Sophomore catcher Ryan Campos is preparing to command head coach Willie Bloomquist's fielders behind the plate with experience and a team-first mentality as the ASU baseball season begins Feb. 17 at home.
A native of Mesa, Arizona, Campos attended Red Mountain High School and registered a .453 batting average in his senior season. Campos was ranked as the No. 11 overall recruit in Arizona in his class and the second-best catcher in the state.
In his freshman season, Campos kicked off his collegiate career by leading the team in most hitting categories. Starting in 43 of ASU’s 58 games, Campos recorded a .357 batting average and a .430 on-base percentage, while tallying two home runs and 30 RBIs. For his efforts, Campos was named an NCBWA Freshman All-American and a Pac-12 All-Conference Team honorable mention.
Campos said redshirt sophomore outfielder Joe Lampe, who was drafted in the third round of the 2022 MLB Draft, helped him succeed in his freshman year. He said Lampe taught him the ropes of collegiate baseball and how to face pitchers.
Over the offseason, Campos improved his defensive and hitting skills to build on an impressive freshman campaign.
After his season at ASU, Campos played for the Wareham Gatemen in the Cape Cod Baseball League, a collegiate summer baseball league. In 38 CCBL games, he batted .242 with two home runs and 11 RBIs. Campos said playing on Cape Cod was his first experience living away from home, adding that the experience helped him prepare for the upcoming season.
"Coming back from the Cape, everyone's the top guy every day," Campos said. "It was good to see competition like that consistently."
While raking at the plate, Campos has also demonstrated polished defensive skills behind the plate, netting a .990 fielding percentage while committing just three errors last season. Volunteer assistant coach Dan Jaffe said he's impressed by Campos' raw talent, adding that he allows him to follow his gut in training.
"A lot of my job defensively with Campos is to stay out of his way," Jaffe said. "My first impression of him when I saw him was already right off the bat, (he's) just an elite receiver."
Jaffe said he is training with Campos to perfect small details and minimize defensive mistakes. Campos is focused on improving his pitch blocking and arm strength after throwing out seven baserunners last season.
Campos put on weight and increased his muscle mass during the offseason, while also increasing his flexibility and mobility. While he's a serviceable outfielder, Bloomquist said he has been impressed by Campos' work ethic and expects him to spend most of the season as a catcher.
"He's taken on a bigger role as far as leadership is concerned," Bloomquist said. "All the success he has is a result of hard work. On his own, he's in here at six in the morning in the weight room and doing his exercises keeping his body healthy."
While improving his play, Campos is using his experience as a freshman last season to step up as a mentor for the team's newcomers. Pitching coach and recruiting coordinator Sam Peraza said Campos knows when to encourage his teammates after a bad at-bat or a defensive mistake. Campos said he wants to help his teammates by answering questions and helping them build a positive mentality.
"That's where I was last year," Campos said. "I definitely feel like I can help them. They bring a great attitude."
Besides his coaches, Campos has won the respect and trust of the team's pitching staff. Junior pitcher Khristian Curtis said he throws bullpen sessions with Campos and is excited to pitch to him during the season. Echoing his praise, Campos said the pitching staff is talented and makes his job easier behind the plate.
With less than two weeks before the season, Bloomquist said Campos hopes to start nearly every game at catcher. After a noteworthy freshman season, Campos said he hasn't made any personal goals and simply wants to win games.
Edited by Kathryn Field, Reagan Priest and Caera Learmonth.