Is Luis Campusano emerging as top MLB catcher for Padres?

Luis Campusano
Luis Campusano / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

The anticipation was high for Luis Campusano when he made his major league debut during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He homered in the game as the future looked bright for him. But injuries, off-the-field issues, and a lack of production almost derailed his career.

However, two weeks into his fifth season with the San Diego Padres, Campusano might be a sidebar story on the team, as all eyes are on Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. That hasn't stopped the young catcher from quickly moving out of the background, though. After transforming into an aggressive hitter, Campusano is emerging as a top MLB catcher.

The Friar Faithful is witnessing Campusano becoming a more mature baseball player. It has surfaced in different ways this season, both in productive at-bats and the handling of the pitching staff. It should not come as a surprise to anyone, either. The Padres have touted Campusano’s talents and ability throughout his climb in the minor league system.

Expectations were high for him. At one point, Campusano was ranked the organization’s fourth-best prospect and major league baseball’s 46th overall prospect. Scouts projected him to become a middle-of-the-order run producer.

But Campusano struggled to stay healthy. Scouts began questioning if he had the body frame to become an everyday catcher. The lone saving grace was his bat. However, it did not start that way.

Campusano started the 2021 season in a horrible hitting slump. He went 3-for-34 with one RBI in 11 games. Each at-bat seemed like Campusano was in "panic mode" once he stepped into the batter’s box. The Padres did not waste any time sending him back to the minors for seasoning.

The demotion meant Campusano had to get back to work. It began by simplifying his swing. Now, the bat moves more flat across the plate. The slight adjustment added more coverage of the strike zone.

Run production was gained immediately, which led to the Friars calling up Campusano back to the majors late last season. In 49 games, he batted .319 with seven homers and 30 RBI. But the more important stat was Campusano having 14 extra-base hits out of his overall 52 hits. And he struck out only 21 times in 174 plate appearances. The results were an improvement of 29.7% strikeout rate from 2021 to 12.1% last season. Instead of swings and misses, Campusano was putting the ball into play.

The Friar Faithful remarked that the former prized prospect looked calm inside the batter’s box. And his newfound success has continued in 2024.

Campusano’s plate discipline has been outstanding, as he struck out only three times in 47 at-bats. He has devised a plan that refrains him from swinging at borderline strikes. By not chasing, Campusano has shown the patience to wait for his pitch. The production has been promising as Campusano is batting .319 with one homer and 10 RBIs in 13 games. Even his outs have been productive as he's moved baserunners into scoring position.

It is rare to see a young player self-evaluate themselves and make the necessary changes to get their career back on track. Campusano is still a work in progress, as he has put himself in a position to succeed.

He is a different hitter from his rookie season. And Campusano is ready to emerge as one of the top major league catchers.