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Rays surprise everyone, promote top prospect Junior Caminero from Double-A

One of baseball’s best prospects is on his way to the majors.

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game
Junior Caminero of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on during batting practice before the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at T-Mobile Park on Saturday, July 8, 2023 in Seattle, Washington.
Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays surprised the baseball world with an aggressive promotion of INF Junior Caminero, a consensus Top-10 prospect in MLB, from Double-A late last night following the end of the Montgomery Biscuits season, as seen in this viral video:

His promotion makes Caminero the youngest player in Major League Baseball at 20 years old, and the second youngest player promoted in franchise history (B.J. Upton was promoted at age-19). But don’t let his age fool you, his calling card is power, to all fields.

Caminero has tallied 31 minor league homeruns this season, including 15 homeruns since dating back to Aug. 1, 2023, and top-of-the-minors exit velocity, per Baseball America:

Caminero has plus-plus power. He posted a 110-mph 90th percentile exit velocity that was best in the minors among batting qualifiers. He has excellent bat speed and has shown a steadily improving batting eye.

That’s not just major league power, that’s elite major league power. One of the most important developments this year, beyond his continued development physically, was barrel control. Junior has a little chase in his swing, but facing quality breaking balls for the first time this year he proved adept at fouling off the balls he chased, as opposed to falling victim to strikeouts (as usually accompanies these power profiles).

I’ll provide the scouting grades the leading publications have provided for Junior, but note these do not tell the full story, as these grades are primarily compiled in the off-season and since these were published Caminero proved himself at the Double-A level.

Junior Caminero Scouting Grades

Scouting Grades Hit Power Run Field Arm Overall
Scouting Grades Hit Power Run Field Arm Overall
Baseball America 50 60 45 45 60 50
MLB Pipeline 60 60 45 50 50 60
FanGraphs 45 65 50 50 - 55
Scouting Grades were generally compiled before his 2023 success at Double-A

Using the 20-80 scale, 50 is a major league player and the average above would be a 55 heading into 2023. As for where Junior is today, it’s worth noting publications now bandy about “future All-Star” labels for Caminero, like Baseball Prospectus earlier this year, which is a 65 grade.

Accordingly, Caminero has ranked in the No. 5-10 overall range at every prospect list you can find, and recently received a comparison to a, “pass-rusher who lights up the NFL combine” by ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel.

In other words, Caminero is a big dude despite his young age, and has a change to prove himself over the last 8 games of the season in a role similar to Osleivis Basabe, Tristan Gray, and Curtis Mead.

Junior Caminero was part of the Rays cohort at the MLB All-Star Game as the starting third baseman for American League Futures team. He was acquired from Cleveland for SP Tobias Myers* in 2021, and needed to be on the 40-man roster next season.

If he shows well in this cup of coffee, Junior might be here to stay — not only through the playoffs but next season too; the Rays could gain an extra draft pick through the new Prospect Promotion Incentive if they carry Caminero for a full service year in 2024.

*Historical note: Myers struggled in Triple-A for Cleveland and was lost on waivers to the Brewers. The Rays acquired Myers for SS Tim Beckham in 2017, which means Caminero may finally be the player who fulfills the promise the organization hoped to receive from the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft.