Could Junior Caminero start 2024 with the Rays?

Could Junior Caminero start the 2024 season in the Rays infield?

Logic dictates that the Dominican should start the year in Triple-A. Despite being called up to Tampa Bay’s big team last September, the 20-year-old has yet to play a game at the highest minor league level. However, given the uncertainty of fellow Dominican Wander Franco and Taylor Walls’ hip surgery, the third baseman may be right there for Caminero to impress in training and earn the position.

Although an assignment to Triple-A seems the most realistic, Caminero tries not to think about it over the winter.

Caminero addressed the topic, saying, “I control what I can control.” “The team already has this decision. Wherever the team sends me, I try to work and leave everything in God’s hands.

So far, Caminero’s control has been impressive. Named the Southern League’s Most Valuable Player in 2023 (Double-A), the Santo Domingo native hit .324/.384/.591 (OPS of .976) between Class-A High Bowling Green and Double-A Is. That’s up to Montgomery, with 31 home runs and 94 RBI. He hit .309/.373/.548 (.921 OPS) in 81 games at Double-A that season.

Such hitting earned Caminero a call up to Tampa Bay’s big team in September, when he had a .235/.278/.353 line with one home run in 36 plate appearances.

“A very good experience. Something every young man wants to dream about: playing in the Major League,” Caminero said of his debut in the majors. “Thank God, we made it and continued to work hard.”

Caminero says that at first, he felt somewhat overwhelmed by being in the Major League environment. That was until his compatriot and Blue Jays star, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., forcefully told him that yes, he was in. show,

“When they called me up and I made my debut, all that, I was practicing with the team and yet, (I took the first shift in the Major Leagues) and I couldn’t believe it, that I was in the Major Leagues. ,” Caminero said. “When I believed it, Vladimir told me, ‘You’re here in the Major League, believe it. You hit your first hit. Congratulations'”.

Caminero also had the opportunity to be part of the Rays’ celebration of their fifth consecutive classification when they clinched one of the American League wild cards.

“We had a lot of fun,” Caminero recalled. “We have fun like we are kids.

“Very nice, full of blessings,” the infielder continued, remembering his 2023. “I can’t complain about the year I had. Thank God, I had a very good season… very good.

As the Rays’ No. 1 prospect and MLB Pipeline’s No. 6 prospect, Caminero is aware of his situation. But at the same time, he tries not to lose sight of the basis of his victory.

“I try not to take it too far,” he said. “I just try to do my job and I try not to think too much about the fact that I’m the team’s number, the organization’s number. “There’s a chance I’m No. 6 in the world. I just try to do my job and stay focused, that’s what I’m doing. It’s leading to success.”

Debut in Dominican with Leones del Escogido

In 2023–24, Caminero got his first experience playing in his country’s winter baseball with Leones del Esquite. With the “long hair”, he hit .333/.362/.575 (.936 OPS) in 21 games, helping the “Reds” eventually qualify for the semifinal round. In El Esguido, among other benefits of his intervention in the Dominican League, the young man had the opportunity to play with veteran José Ramírez of the Cleveland Guardians.

“It was a great experience in my country, playing with many easels, many of them young,” he said. “I thought it was great to play with them there, because it’s an experience that I’ll bring here and play ball the way I’ve been playing. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

It’s time to continue establishing ourselves in Tampa Bay

The next step for Caminero, who is currently training at Rays facilities, is to impress in training sessions for the bigger Tampa Bay team. While it’s true that he may most likely start in Triple-A, Caminero can’t wait to return to the Major Leagues and establish himself with the Rays for good.

“I crave that because the work has pulled me in,” he said, “and staying focused with the same discipline.”

And which pitcher would you most like to face in the future? None other than Shohei Ohtani, who will pitch again with the Dodgers in 2025.

“He’s the best player out there at the moment,” Caminero said of the Japanese star. “To me, the best pitcher. Excellent person. top player. One star. “I want to face that star.”

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