Junior Caminero, one of baseball’s best prospects, is getting promoted to help the Rays finish their push for the playoffs, and in doing so becomes the 10th player in franchise history to don the No. 1 jersey.
Here’s a brief history of the players who have worn the No. 1 before Caminero:
Miguel Cairo (2000)
The first ever second baseman in team history and the last original Devil Rays to play in the big leagues, Cairo was an excellent inaugural #1 for the franchise. Over his big league career, which spanned from 1996 through 2012, Cairo spent three years with Tampa Bay from 1998 through 2000, and was the second best player on the team in 1998 in terms of fWAR (2.2).
Antonio Perez (2003)
When the Devil Rays traded All-Star outfielder Randy Winn at the end of the 2002 season the rights to negotiate and then hire Lou Pinella, the team also acquired a prospect middle infielder named Antonio Perez. Unfortunately, Perez never lived up to his prospect billing, playing in just 48 games for Tampa Bay during the 2003 season (accrued 0.8 fWAR) and would last play in the big leagues in 2006.
Rey Sanchez (2004)
The Devil Rays front office wanted to appease Lou Pinella during the 2004 season and did so by bringing as many journeyman veteran players as possible. Among those players was Rey Sanchez, a defensive oriented second baseman who despite a career .272 batting average, only registered a career 66 wRC+ but also 14.6 fWAR. Nonetheless, he made a lifelong impression on the writer of this article by hitting a walk-off inside-the-park homerun at a game in which I was in attendance.
Joey Gathright (2005)
Joey Gathright is what you get if you’d put an Olympic runner in a baseball uniform. Thanks to his truly game-changing speed, Gathright became a decent prospect and debuted with the Devil Rays in 2004. He’d take the #1 a season later after Rey Sanchez moved on. Despite a respectable 77 wRC+, Gathright managed to accrue 1.4 fWAR in 2005. He would be traded to Kansas City the following season and last played in the big leagues in 2011 with the Red Sox.
Akinori Iwamura (2007-2009)
An absolute titan of the game in Japan, the Devil Rays shocked the baseball world by winning the rights to Iwamura and eventually signing him prior to the 2007 season. Iwamura quickly became a favorite among fans dude to his explosive style of play. He would serve as a catalyst for the team as they vaulted from last to first and became perennial contenders. During his three season with Tampa Bay, Iwamura would hit .281/.354/.393 and accrue 7.0 fWAR. He would become synonymous with success in Tampa Bay as the image of him stepping on second secure the Rays first ever pennant is forever cemented in people’s mind; the Rays will be commemorating that moment with a statue this weekend.
Sean Rodríguez (2010-2014)
Acquired by the Rays for former franchise ace Scott Kazmir, Sean Rodriguez had a big void to fill. Rodriguez instantly showcased why the Rays believed in him as he would register 2.1 fWAR in 2010 all the while playing myriad positions and absolutely torching left-handed pitching. He proceeded with more of the same in 2011, before struggles at the plate and with injury lost his place within the organization. Nevertheless, he still found jobs around the game and finally retired after the 2020 season.
Tim Beckham (2015-2017)
The infamous 2008 #1 pick by the Devil Rays, Tim Beckham just could never put his excellent tools into the excellent results that were needed of a #1 pick. He wouldn’t make his big league debut until the 2013 season and despite playing in parts of four seasons for the Rays, he only appeared in 239 games and registered 1.8 fWAR over that time. He would be traded at the 2017 deadline to Baltimore, where Beckham shined in just 50 games, showcasing exactly the type of player everyone imagined he could be, but then his stats plummeted back to Earth. He last played with Minnesota in 2022.
Beckham would be traded in 2017 for a right handed pitching prospect named Tobias Myers, who would in turn be traded at the 2021 Rule 5 deadline for an infield prospect named Junior Caminero…
Willy Adames (2018-2021)
Adames took a bit to reach the Majors after being the centerpiece of the David Price trade at the 2014 deadline, but he certainly lived up the billing. Excellent on field results along with a jubilant personality quickly made Adames a fan favorite. From 2018 to 2020, Adames registered 107 wRC+ and 5.8 fWAR before being traded halfway through the 2021 season to open a playing spot for Wander Franco. Since being traded, Adames has had stellar success with the Milwaukee Brewers and is well on his to having fantastic career.
Luis Patiño (2022-2023)
One of the main focal points of the Blake Snell trade, Luis Patino just could not regain his pitching prowess that led to him getting an aggressive promotion to the majors as one of the game’s top prospects. After struggling during his limited chances in the big leagues and toiling away in the minor leagues, the Rays finally cut bait with Patino and traded him at the 2023 deadline.
Junior Caminero (2023-)
Since he was acquired by the Rays following the 2021 offseason, Caminero has absolutely blistered the minor leagues and put up video games numbers as a 20 year old. His production has to led him receiving the call to the big leagues and thus making him the second youngest position player in franchise history, behind B.J. Upton who debuted at 19.