On Friday the Rays made a trade, acquiring INF Junior Caminero from the Guardians in exchange for RHP Tobias Myers. The trade was made largely because of the Rays 40-man roster crunch situation. Tobias Myers was eligible for the Rule 5 draft this offseason and instead of adding him to the roster, the Rays opted to trade him for a prospect who has a few years before becoming Rule 5 eligible.
Junior Caminero is an 18-year old infielder from the Dominican Republic who signed in 2019 as a part of the Cleveland international class. Caminero spent the entirety of 2021 (his first pro season) playing in the Dominican Summer League (DSL) where he saw time at all four infield spots. He saw the most time at 3B, and most scouting reports suggest he’s more of a corner infielder than a middle infielder long-term. Here’s a look at his fielding actions:
The most impressive part of Caminero’s game thus far has been his bat. In 2021 he slashed .295/.380/.534 over 171 plate appearances which was good for a 145 wRC+. He was also able to hit 9 home runs, 8 doubles, and steal 2 bases this year. On top of his excellent results, his 11.7 BB% and 16.4 K% were impressive figures as well.
For more context on just how well he hit, out of the 457 hitters to record 100 plate appearances in the DSL, only 2 of them recorded both a lower strikeout rate AND a higher SLG than Caminero did. Both of those 2 players are almost a year older than him as well. Simply put, Caminero can really hit, both for contact and for power.
Junior has an athletic swing with a big load that produces some serious bat speed. Here’s a few looks at him from this season:
Junior Caminero from CLE. Insane looking bat speed. My interest is piqued pic.twitter.com/4OTCCdhEv5— Trevor Hooth (@HoothTrevor) September 3, 2021
Junior Caminero keeps hitting in the ACL for Cleveland. HR #6 for him pic.twitter.com/oG4ZlDEZ1B— Justin L. (@JL_Baseball) September 16, 2021
#Indians 18yr old INF prospect Junior Caminero taking BP w/ @TigresdelLicey tonight at their home stadium. He is receiving instructions from former MLB star @HanleyRamirez in the background. Caminero is coming off a tremendous pro-debut in the Dominican Summer League.#OurCLE pic.twitter.com/mb3QUvY7Lh— Guardians Prospective (@indiansPro) October 27, 2021
Caminero willlikely start the 2022 playing at Low-A Charleston. It will be interesting to watch where the Rays choose to play him in the field, and how he handles the pitching in a full-season league.
Junior is eligible for the Rule 5 draft in 2023 according to FanGraphs. He’s not the only prospect the Rays have acquired recently with a post-2021 Rule 5 eligibility date. Recent acquisition Evan Reifert (Mike Brosseau trade) is Rule 5 eligible in 2024. Prospects Matt Dyer (Rich Hill trade) and Austin Shenton (Diego Castillo trade) are eligible in 2023 and 2022 respectively. Rays trades in recent years have focused on getting younger and more flexible, which buys the team a few years to assess the talent they are getting.