By Gabriel Stovall
McDONOUGH, Ga. – As the first round picks came and went Monday night during the Major League Baseball Draft of 2015, Doug Campbell found himself scooting further and further toward the edge of his seat.
He didn’t expect to still be watching for the name Dazmon Cameron, arguably the top baseball talent to ever come through Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy to flash across the bottom of the screen as a team’s preferred selection.
Cameron, considered a top five pick for the last two years – and in some circles, touted as the draft’s No. 1 player — watched as the first round came and went. He still had not been chosen.
Then, with the Draft’s 37th pick – and the first selection of the second round – it finally happened. Cameron’s name was called by the Houston Astros, and caused everyone to breathe a sigh of relief.
“When it happened, I sent him a text and said, ‘Congratulations. You had us all sweating there, but it’s good you went where you wanted to go,’” Campbell said.
Campbell said despite the lower draft pick status, his former star outfielder got virtually everything he wanted out of his Draft Day soiree – a chance to play for an organization that truly wanted him and that also got very talent-rich through the draft.
Because Houston had the second and fifth overall picks and the first pick of the second round, it was able to secure three top-five talents – a move that Campbell said no other team was better positioned to make.
“The story was, watching mlb.com, that (the Astros) wanted him, and that the money was going to be high, like maybe a $5 million signing bonus,” Campbell said. “I think the Astors, having aggregate money more so than everyone else could afford to let Daz drop a bit. But it worked out to everyone’s advantage, I guess.”
In addition to Houston’s pick of Cameron, also a Florida State baseball commit, the Astros were able to grab LSU shortstop Alex Bregman and Plant (Fla.) High outfielder Kyle Tucker. Campbell said it was a situation where everyone except Cameron and renowned baseball agent Scott Boras – who brokered the deal – were concerned.
Still, Campbell and ELCA athletic director Scott Queen both said they wouldn’t have minded seeing Cameron fall into one of those top five spots.
“From a pride standpoint, everybody wanted to see him go as high as possible,” Campbell said. “But when you’re working with a guy like Boras and it’s all about the bottom line, it works out for him that way. All the mock drafts had Daz as a top five or six pick, so I guess from a status standpoint, maybe not as exciting, but the main deal is he gets to go and play where he wanted to go. He wasn’t planning on going to play college. He wanted to go straight to the minor and major leagues.”
Said Queen: “We were all just kind of sweating it out because we were not knowing all that much of what was going on, but apparently Daz was on the phone with those guys the whole time and they knew what was going on.”
Cameron finished his career at ELCA with a .455 batting average, 32 RBIs and eight home runs – all team leading totals during his senior campaign. He helped lead the Chargers to a 20-5 record overall, and a 9-0 mark in Region 5-A.
Campbell called Cameron an instrumental part of his 2013 state championship team as a sophomore, and an overall representative of what makes ELCA baseball a special program.
“Dazmon is a part of that final class that just moved on, which was the last of a strong group of guys that had come through here over the last few years,” said Campbell, who recently completed his ninth and final year at the helm of ELCA’s baseball program. “Guys like Daz, Justin Heyward, D.J. Curl, Dalton (Etheridge), Jake Davies. I’ve had a special time with some really good ball players, and we’ll see what the future holds for them.”
Of the brightest ELCA stars, Cameron had, hands down, the highest pro potential as measured by the Draft. Davies, a Georgia Tech LHP was taken in the last day of the 2012 Draft as the 661st pick to the Boston Red Sox. Jacob Heyward, brother of former Atlanta Braves all-star outfielder – and Henry County High alum Jason Heyward — was drafted by his brother’s old team in the 38th round of the 2013 draft. The younger Heyward opted for a college career at Miami where he’s now a sophomore.
Campbell said Cameron stands out even among the standouts because of the approach he brings to the game of baseball.
“Daz has got a mentality that’s a little different than most kids in high school,” he said. “He’s very patient, and he lets the game come to him. He doesn’t try to make things happen that he can’t control. If he’s not hitting well or his timing isn’t together, he just knows that it’s going to come. Baseball is a game of failure, and he understands the game. He knows he can’t always be successful, but I’ve never seen him throw a helmet. Never seen him really get mad. Even if he’s not doing well or doesn’t come through in the clutch like he wants, he just goes out there in the field and plays at a high level like nothing is wrong.”
Queen, who coaches Dazmon’s younger sister T’Aja Cameron in track, said he can personally attest, not only to Dazmon’s play, but his character.
“He’s a quiet, humble young man, from what we see with him around school, but he’s got that work ethic that you want all your kids to have,” Queen said. “To see this happen for him, it’s just got me excited. And I know he had a lot of the baseball guys around him tonight. Hopefully they’ll be able to look and see how that kind of work ethic and ability can pay off. We’ve never had one like him here.”
And though typically soft spoken, Campbell said that hearing Cameron’s voice Monday night was all he needed to gauge his former star’s mood.
“I just talked to him over the phone,” Campbell said Monday night, moments after his selection was announced. “You can tell he’s ecstatic and excited. He’s definitely happy with how it worked out.”
GRIFFIN STANDOUT GOES FIRST
Cameron wasn’t the first Southern Crescent area baseball player to get selected in the 2015 MLB Draft. That distinction goes to former Griffin High shortstop Cornelius Randolph. The Philadelphia Phillies used the 11th overall pick of the draft to select the 6-foot-1, 190 pound Clemson commitment, who will likely forego college to sign with the Phillies organization.
With those two high picks out of the way, now some of the local names to watch will be guys like Luella’s Bryant Harris who has been placed as high as the 44th pick in mock drafts. It may not be out of the question for guys like Ola pitcher Jaret Hellinger or Union Grove hurler Shane Tucker to have their names called as well.
Possibilities could exist also for former Luella players Chase Scott (Southern Miss) and Vincent Jackson (Tennessee).
Check back later with thecrescentbuzz.com for more about Randolph’s draft story, and more updates on area players in this year’s draft.