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Spin for Stars: #2 - Junior Caminero
Zac Beck breaks down Junior Caminero
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I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write about Junior Caminero, so when Regan (@brewvaca on Twitter) spun #2 I jumped all over it. There’s been a lot of discourse about Caminero this year, particularly about how he flew up the rankings and where he belongs among the top echelon of dynasty prospects. We find ourselves at a point in the calendar where most of the top of my April list has graduated and Caminero is pretty universally regarded as a top-10 or even top-5 fantasy prospect.
As a reminder, this series is based on the spin of a random number wheel and is an exercise in diving deeper into prospects between full-rank updates. The wheel is numbered 1 to 200, so we’ll get a wide array of names as we progress and it might lead to rank changes in real time.
Junior Caminero, Shortstop
Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Age / Height / Weight: 20, 6’1, 157 lbs
Overall Prospect Rank: 2
Positional Prospect Rank: 2
One of the hottest names in dynasty leagues regardless of format today, Caminero was actually signed by the Guardians in July of 2019, just three days shy of his 16th birthday. He’d have to wait until 2021 to make his professional debut, delayed significantly by the coronavirus pandemic. He started making noise almost immediately in the DSL by accruing a .295/.380/.534 triple-slash with 9 home runs and a 20/28 BB/K in 171 plate appearances that summer as a 17 year old. The Rays acquired him in exchange for Tobias Myers ahead of the 40-man deadline in November of 2021, a move that is emblematic of their franchise – trades intended to maneuver around roster restrictions and target high upside youngsters. Myers’ stint in Cleveland was short enough that he does not register as a Guardian on Baseball Reference. Oops!
Since that transaction, Caminero’s ascent has been swift and raucous. He’s ravished every level he’s been at while being significantly younger than the competition – including during a stint in the Australian Baseball League last winter. He has amassed a career .314/.382/.532/.914 line over 777 minor league plate appearances with 36 home runs, 17 stolen bases, and an 18.9%/9.0% K/BB. Plenty of ballplayers have had scintillating stints in their minor league tenures, but it’s how Caminero’s production comes together that has evaluators jazzed.
Caminero hits the baseball very hard. His 90th percentile exit velocity rivals the very best power hitters in all of baseball – minor league or otherwise – and he makes plenty of contact in the zone (84% z-con). He’s able to do damage to all fields and routinely goes the other way for over-the-fence impact. He’s much heavier than his listed weight now as he’s filled out on a professional strength and conditioning program. As he’s progressed to Double-A his ground ball rate has ticked up to over 50%, and we’ll want to see that come down over the remainder of the season, but it’s nothing to be concerned about at this juncture.
Looking forward, Caminero has the juice to be a 30+ HR bat annually with solid batting averages and OBPs. He’s a potential middle-of-the-order masher for a very good ballclub and one of the best offenses in baseball this year. He’ll likely have to move off shortstop, especially with Wander in town, but primarily because he profiles better defensively at a corner. He’ll need to be added to the 40-man roster in November, which will speed up his timeline. We may see Caminero in Tampa Bay in 2024 in some capacity, mainly if he’s able to maintain the approach gains he’s seen with Montgomery.