Thomas Harrington didn’t garner offers from college baseball programs until the summer leading up to his senior year of high school in 2019. Harrington was a shortstop and right-handed pitcher and believed schools would have interest in him as a position player.
Despite Harrington’s minimal experience on the mound, as he didn’t start pitching until his junior year, the Campbell University coaching staff saw potential in Harrington as a pitcher. Campbell didn’t have any scholarships remaining, however, and offered Harrington a walk-on spot.
He accepted Campbell’s offer over interest from other mid-major programs due to the program’s location and history of developing talent for the professional ranks.
Harrington has made significant strides in his time at Campbell. He earned Big South Freshman of the Year after playing a vital role as a starting pitcher on Campbell’s NCAA tournament team last year. This season, Harrington is the ace of Campbell’s pitching staff and one of the top pitchers in college baseball.
Harrington’s development at Campbell has put him in a position to hear his name called in July’s MLB draft. Scouts project the draft-eligible sophomore as a likely top-two-round pick in the draft. He has a chance to surpass right-hander Seth Johnson (40th overall pick, 2019) as the highest pick in program history.
“It is super cool to see,” Harrington said. “My other self would probably be super proud of me. It’s exciting, and I can’t wait for what’s next.”
In 2021, Harrington posted a 3.45 ERA with 75 strikeouts and 28 walks allowed in 75 2/3 innings in 16 games (14 starts). He spent the offseason improving his command and adding strength to his frame. The offseason work has paid off for Harrington this season. He has posted a 1.25 ERA with 93 strikeouts and 12 walks allowed in 65 innings in 10 starts as Campbell’s ace.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-handed pitcher throws a four-seam fastball, two-seamer, changeup, slider and curveball from a three-quarters arm slot.
Harrington mostly throws his four-seam fastball and occasionally mixes in his two-seamer. It sits in the low-90s and touches 96 mph. His changeup is an above-average offering and has developed into his go-to off-speed pitch this season. He has a strong feel for the pitch, and it generates swings and misses out of the strike zone.
Harrington uses his slider as a strikeout pitch, while his curveball is a get-me-over pitch he throws early in counts. He describes his mentality on the mound as the biggest strength in his game.
“It’s not a lot of (Chicago White Sox pitcher) Liam Hendriks screaming at the dugout or whatever when I pitch,” Harrington said. “I have found out that I should be calm and collected when I pitch and don’t let all the bad things get to you. That is my strongest point right now.”
Harrington mixes his pitches well and has a strong feel for pitching. He wants to improve his slider and curveball to develop a quality third offering.
“It is hard to adjust mechanics and pitch design during the season,” Harrington said. “It’s probably something you honestly don’t want to mess with. But just commanding the baseball is something I want to improve. If you don’t let the first guy get on base, the chances of the team scoring in the inning go down a tremendous amount.”
Campbell posted a 37-18 record and made their third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance last year.
This season, the Camels are 27-14 and have high expectations. They boast a talented roster, headlined by Harrington and shortstop Zach Neto, a potential first-round pick, and hope to make a deep postseason run.
The Camels have made five NCAA tournament appearances in the program’s history. They have never advanced to an NCAA Super Regional and hope this season is different.
“We bring in a lot of hard-working dudes that love the game of baseball and want to be here,” Harrington said. “The coaches do a phenomenal job. We practice super hard. We aren’t scared of anybody.”
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Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for seven years. He has interviewed 356 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.