After months of uncertainty with not only the possibility of baseball being played but in the world as a whole, a long-awaited dream has been fulfilled. Former Campbell hurler Ryan Thompson has been added to the Tampa Bay Rays Opening Day roster for 2020 while former Campbell outfielder Cedric Mullins makes his return to the big leagues after being added to the Baltimore Orioles opening day list.
Six years later after departing from Buies Creek, NC, Thompson will make his first appearance on a big-league roster on Friday when the Rays host the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field. Mullins, who made his MLB debut on August 10, 2018, with the Orioles, will rejoin the squad on Friday in Boston against the Red Sox and will return to a very familiar Camden Yards next Wednesday for the Orioles home opener against the Miami Marlins.
Thompson, who played for the Fighting Camels for two seasons was drafted in the 23rd round by the Houston Astros, will be the 11th player in Campbell history to make it to The Show.
Thompson will be one of four Justin Haire coached players to make it to the big stage, alongside Mullins, Matt Marksberry (Atlanta) and Jake Smith (San Diego). Head Coach Justin Haire has produced 15 draft picks during his time at Campbell as a part of 56 total Campbell products to be drafted with Mullins marking the first position player to make it to the big stage.
The 28-year-old sidearm slinger from Turner, Oregon had an impressive spring training with the squad where he tossed eight scoreless innings. During the recent summer ball exhibition games at Tropicana Field, he held his own appearing in three games in route to solidifying a spot on the opening day roster.
During his time in Buies Creek, Thompson helped the Camels to a 2013 Big South Regular Season title and to the 2014 Big South Conference Tournament title. The Camels then went on to an appearance in the Columbia Regional where the Camels picked up their first-ever NCAA postseason win with a 4-3 decision over Old Dominion.
The righty closer was named the Big South Pitcher of the Year in 2013 after leading the nation with a Big South and program record 0.88 ERA and followed that with another All-America campaign in 2014, becoming the first two-time All-American in program history.
After being drafted by the Astros in 2014, Tampa Bay acquired Thompson in December of 2018 in the minor-league Rule 5 draft after he missed a season due to Tommy John surgery. Thompson then worked his way up the Rays system making stops with the Charlotte Stone Crabs (Advanced-A), the Montgomery Biscuits (AA), and an international league playoff appearance with the Durham Bulls where he tossed two innings and struck out the side in the sixth as a part of four total punchouts in route to being credited with a hold.
After one year at Campbell, Mullins was selected as the 403rd pick of the 2015 MLB Draft, becoming the highest Camel (at the time) picked since the Milwaukee Brewers took Nic Carter in the fourth round in 2002.
A transfer from Louisburg College, Mullins led the 2015 Fighting Camels with a .340 clip and 59 runs scored. He also tacked on 34 extra base hits, sprinkling in 23 doubles, seven triples and four home runs. Mullins received Second Team Atlantic All-Region honors by the American Baseball Coaches Association and was selected Second Team All-Big South.
Prior to a shortened 2020 season, Campbell claimed both the Big South regular-season and tournaments titles in 2018 and 2019 to become the only school to accomplish the task over the past two full seasons.