MLB

Who is Junior Caminero? Rays promote top shortstop prospect to big leagues

The Rays have a veritable shortstop pipeline. This season alone, Tampa Bay has promoted Curtis Mead and Osleivis Basabe, two standout rookies. The team appears to have saved its best prospect for last.

On Thursday, it was announced Junior Caminero would be promoted from Double-A to the big leagues, an aggressive move for a 20-year-old shortstop who has tallied just 81 games at Double-A this season after beginning the season at High-A.

The Rays are already one of the best teams in baseball, with only the Braves, Orioles and Dodgers boasting a better record entering Friday. But since Wander Franco was placed on indefinite leave, the team has shuffled through Taylor Walls, Vidal Brujan, Isaac Paredes and Basabe trying to find its consistent answer at shortstop. Through Aug. 12, the Rays ranked second in team fWAR at shortstop at 5.6. Since then, the Rays rank 22nd with 0.0 fWAR.

Though Caminero’s primary position is third base, he has experience at shortstop and could handle the position for a team chasing the Orioles for the AL East crown and the No. 1 seed in the American League.

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Here’s everything you need to know about Caminero.

Who is Junior Caminero?

Caminero has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the minors and through prospect rankings. Caminero did not appear on the Top 100 for MLB Pipeline in 2022 and was not on Baseball America’s 2023 preseason top 100. At the time of his promotion, Caminero ranks sixth on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 and fifth on Baseball America’s list. 

The bat is what stands out when looking at Caminero. He has a ton of raw power and makes consistent contact. He’s also shown improvement with his plate discipline this season, with his walk rate nearly reaching 10 percent. Caminero is not exactly a burner and won’t be a base-stealing threat, but he has enough mobility to play decent defense on the left side, most likely at third, with a strong arm.

Caminero has made quick work of the minors. Initially signed in July 2019 by Cleveland, Caminero missed the entire 2020 season with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down all the minor leagues. In 2021, he appeared in 43 games in the Dominican Summer League before reaching the Florida Complex League in 2022. That year, as an 18-year-old, he also rose up to Class-A.

In 2023, Caminero has continued to torch the minors. He needed just 36 games at High-A to prove he belonged at the next level, reaching Double-A when he was still 19 years old. He’s played 81 games with the Biscuits before his promotion to the majors.

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Junior Caminero trade

The Rays and Guardians have both been known at times as teams no one wants to trade with because of how effective they are at ending up with the better deal. On Nov. 19, 2021, the two teams met up for a trade that has aged quite poorly for Cleveland.

The Guardians sent Caminero to Tampa Bay for right-handed pitcher Tobias Myers, straight up. How has Myers done? In 2022, he made 14 starts (60 innings) for the Guardians’ Triple-A club and pitched to a 6.00 ERA. Myers was designated for assignment on July 2, 2022, and he was traded to the Giants the next day. Myers is currently on the roster of the Brewers’ Triple-A team, and has yet to reach the majors.

Junior Caminero stats

Year Level PA AVG/OBP/SLG HR SB/ATT BB% K%
2021 DSL 171 .295/.380/.534 9 2/2 11.7% 16.4%
2022 Rk/A 271 .314/.384/.498 11 12/13 8.5% 15.9%
2023 A+/AA 510 .324/.384/.591 31 5/10 8.2% 19.6%
Career 1,123 .314/.381/.564 65 25/32 8.9% 18%

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