Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Junior Caminero debut: Rays promote top infield prospect to majors amid battle for AL East title, per report

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The Tampa Bay Rays are promoting infielder Junior Caminero to the majors, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Caminero, 20, will be skipping over the Triple-A level after appearing in just 81 Double-A contests.

Caminero hit .309/.373/.548 with 20 home runs and 62 RBI in 351 trips to the plate. He primarily appeared at third base, though the Rays also gave him exposure at shortstop to improve his versatility and their optionality.

CBS Sports ranked Caminero the 17th prospect in the minors back in June. Rest assured, he would rank much higher now after establishing that the concerns about his approach were incorrect. Here’s what we wrote at the time:

We identified Caminero, who the Rays originally acquired from the Guardians for journeyman Tobias Myers, as a breakout candidate prior to the season. He’s delivered so far, posting a ridiculous batting line against High-A competition that’s three-plus years his senior. Caminero has one major concern facing him now that the matter of his long-term defensive home has been settled (he’s mostly played third this year), and that’s with respect to his approach. His strikeout rate has increased this year while his walk rate has remained static. Make no mistake about it: Caminero’s youth and ability to impact the baseball bode well for his future prospects. We just suspect he will face more of a challenge in Double-A until he becomes more selective. 

It’s to be seen how exactly the Rays deploy Caminero, who they originally acquired in a trade from the Cleveland Guardians. In theory, he could see action at third base and shortstop (if the Rays are comfortable with his glove there in spurts) as well as at designated hitter, where they’ve lately deployed a rotating cast, including infielder Jonathan Aranda and injured outfielder Luke Raley.

The Rays will enter Friday with a 1.5-game deficit in the American League East by virtue of having won on Thursday while the Baltimore Orioles lost.

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