After stellar year, Clemson closer picked by Dodgers

After stellar year, Clemson closer picked by Dodgers

Clemson closer Matt Campbell wasn't satisfied with his junior season. His numbers weren't where he wanted them to be, and they certainly didn't match with the amount of work he thought he put in. So he worked harder.

The result? A stellar senior year and a ninth-round selection (No. 279 overall) by the Dodgers, who continue to stockpile college pitchers in this year's First-Year Player Draft on Friday.

The Draft concludes on Saturday with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on at 10 a.m. PT.

Campbell, a 5-foot-10, 195-pound right-hander, said he put in additional time in the weight room this year, knowing it was his last chance to lead his team to Omaha in the College World Series as well as his final chance to get drafted.

"I was going to lay it all out on the line," Campbell said. "I was playing for the team. I wasn't playing for myself. … When it was all over, I looked back on it, and I was like, 'Oh, I actually did have some pretty good numbers out there.'"

Campbell pitched to a 0.84 ERA in 32 innings, striking out 45 batters, allowing just 16 hits and accruing eight saves as the Tigers' closer. He said his fastball velocity jumped up a tick from his junior season, in which he posted a 4.82 ERA, going from 89-91 mph to 92-93 and occasionally touching the mid-90s. Campbell mixes in a slider as well, with a changeup serving as his primary out pitch.

Campbell said he's admired Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw from afar, trying to learn from his approach, and he's eager to wear Dodger blue.

"It's the greatest feeling in the world," Campbell said. "I've never felt this in my life. And I've never been more honored and humbled to be taken by an organization, especially one as great as Los Angeles is."

Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.