Malden native Paul Campbell was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays.
By STEVE FREKER
REVERE— Paul Campbell has been on the same path for as long as he can remember.
From the time he could pick up and throw a baseball, like so many other kids along the way, he wanted to wear the uniform of the players he watched on television and at places like Fenway Park.
When he picks up a pen and signs his first professional baseball contract in a couple of days, the Malden native and Tampa Bay Rays 21st round draftee will be well on his way.
Campbell now lives in Revere and has just completed his second season as a right-handed fireballer with the vaunted Clemson Tigers on one of the biggest collegiate baseball stages in the world.
On Wednesday, his name was called as as the fourth pick in the 21st round by Tampa in the 2017 Major League Baseball (MLB) entry draft.
Campbell and his dad, Allan, were intently keeping tabs on the proceedings in their local abode.
“It was exciting to follow,” Campbell said. “Honestly, I had a pretty good idea I would be picked up this year from what the scouts and my agent were telling me, but it was still a huge thrill when it happened.”
Campbell said it was extra special this year because he knew a lot of the players who were in the draft pool this year, having played with or against dozens of the top players in the nation over his past two seasons at Clemson.
“It’s a huge honor and I feel very blessed to have an opportunity to play professional baseball,” said Campbell, a 2014 Malden Catholic High School graduate, who grew up in Malden and came through the Malden Central Little League and Malden Babe Ruth League.
Campbell is the first Malden resident to be drafted professionally since Malden High alumnus Keith Forbes was picked out of Wallace (Ala.) Community College in the 37th round of the 1997 draft by San Diego.
The 6 foot-2 inch, 210 pound right-hander is the second Malden Catholic graduate in two years to be drafted professionally in baseball and will be the sixth Lancer pro baseball signee in the past 11 years. Franklin Pierce righty Paul Covelle, a Medford resident and 2012 Malden Catholic grad signed with the Seattle Mariners organization last summer and is in his second pro season. A third Malden Catholic grad, Dario Pizzano (MC ‘09) of Saugus is in his fifth pro season, at the Triple A level with Seattle this season.
Paul’s father, Allan, said draft day was emotional.
“I literally choked up talking to people who were calling offering congratulations to my son,” Campbell said. “He’s been blessed to be around a lot of people who have looked out for him and helped him along the way.”
The elder Campbell said a recent Pro Day workout after the end of the Clemson season may have opened eyes.
“(Paul) touched 97 mph on the (radar) gun and was sitting 95-96 on his fastball and he was the top guy there in that department.”
Campbell said he can’t wait to get to work.
“I will be working with my agent on finalizing a contract and then I’ll be headed to Florida to get accustomed to the training and workouts before getting assigned to a team,” Campbell said. “I can’t wait to start learning and getting better. This is something I have wanted for a long time.”