Rule 5 Drafts of Yesteryear: Kevin Kameron

Yesterday the Padres traded Anthony Bass to the Houston Astros for the rights to the first pick in today’s Rule 5 Draft. The Vocal Minority’s Nate speculated that the Padres could use that pick to add a left-handed arm to their bullpen in 2014 either by taking Brian Moran (Mariners) or Omar Luis (Yankees). The Rule 5 draft is a cheap way to add an arm to the bullpen with one all important stipulation: is the player ready to contribute.

Back in 2006 the Padres used the Rule 5 Draft to add Kevin Cameron, a right-handed reliever from the Minnesota Twins’ organization. The 2006 Rule 5 Draft is a notable one as it is the year that the Padres lost closer Joakim Soria to the Kansas City Royals and Josh Hamilton reemerged from years of absence to take MLB by storm.

In December of 2006, Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein wrote the following about Kevin Cameron:

Cameron has been a solid reliever in the Twins system for the last three years, and scouts like his ability to generate tons of groundballs with a low-90s sinker that produced a groundball/flyball ratio of better than 2-to-1 at Triple-A Rochester.

How did it work out for the Padres and Kevin Cameron?

Cameron didn’t quite produce a 2-t0-1 groundball/flyball ratio during the 2007 season but he did produce a groundball/flyball ratio of 1.51 as well as a 19.0% K rate across 58 innings of relatively low leverage work.

Cameron debuted in the third game of the 2007 season when he entered the in the 7th inning of a 5-1 game in San Francisco. The righty pitched 2 innings, allowing 1 hit, and striking out former Padre, Rich Aurilia.

In a stretch of 11 appearances from April 5th to May 11th, Kameron would pitch 16.1 scoreless innings, striking out 15 batters along the way. While those numbers look good, Cameron also walked 15 batters and the young draftee wouldn’t see the mound again until May 27th.

On May 30th, 2007 our very own Son of a Duck noted the following about Cameron’s absence:

Speaking of Cameron, it’s great to see him finally get into a game again (first time since May 11), but the timing strikes me as odd. With everyone fully rested after an off-day, I’d expected to see someone a little more tenured come into a two-run game in the seventh.

Unless there is a physical issue we’re not aware of, it seems weird to me that you’d give a guy 18 days of rest and then throw him into a relatively high-leverage situation. Like, I’m guessing the Padres have been down two runs late in a game at some point during that stretch.

If Cameron was hurt (and even if not, make something up already — dude sat for 18 days), it sure would have been nice to have a right-handed bat on the bench.

After the long stretch of inactivity Kameron would see the mound with more regularity but would still experience 10 day layoffs on 3 separate occasions. Was this a conscious strategy on the part of rookie manager Bud Black, the idea being to limit Cameron’s exposure to Major League hitters thus increasing his chances for success? The strategy appeared to have worked as Cameron kept his ERA under 1.00 in 45 innings of work through August 15th. From August 16th until September 30th however, Kevin Cameron was a different pitcher, giving up chunks of runs in limited opportunities.

Game 162

In Game 162, with the season on the line, the Padres took a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the 5th inning. That was where Brett Tomko and Cla Meredith unraveled surrendering 4 runs before Kevin Cameron entered the game and stemmed the bleeding with a strikeout of Geoff Jenkins. Cameron’s glory would be short-lived though, as he promptly walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the 6th, and was charged with all 3 runs after Doug Brocail gave up a bases clearing triple to Gabe Gross effectively putting the game out of reach and pushing the Padres to Game 163 on Monday in Colorado. Kevin Cameron’s last batter of 2007 had been an 8 pitch walk to Ryan Braun.

This is the end

Kevin Cameron had survived an entire season at the big league level with a 2.79 ERA and a 2-0 record and was now officially Padres property. But in 2008 Cameron could only manage 10.0 innings of work through April and May and found himself working in Portland for the better part of the season. Cameron was granted free-agency in November of 2008 and moved to the Oakland Athletics where he threw 18.1 innings in 2009, his last innings as a Major Leaguer.

For a $50,000 payment to the Minnesota Twins and a $380,000 salary the Padres got themselves a low leverage reliever for the 2007 season. I wonder how this morning will work out . . .

Kevin Kameron currently resides in a Phoenix suburb where he is a neighbor of close family friends. I shall buy him a beer one day.

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I contribute to Padres Public on Thursday mornings and when I’m feeling particularly outraged by the location of statues around Petco Park. I can also be found on twitter at @AvengingJM. The dusty archives of AJM are located at avengingjm.blogspot.com

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