June 13, 2024

The Tampa Bay Rays are calling up top infield prospect Junior Caminero, bolstering their roster for a stretch run that will cap one of the best seasons in franchise history, sources told ESPN.

Caminero, who turned 20 in July, will make the jump from Double-A, where he ascended after 36 dominant games this season at High-A. Between the stops, Caminero is hitting .324/.384/.591 with 31 home runs and 94 RBIs in 117 games.

A shortstop and third baseman, Caminero joins a Rays team that at 94-60 is 1½ games behind Baltimore for the American League East lead. The No. 5 prospect in Kiley McDaniel’s midseason rankings, Caminero is regarded for not just his offensive production but the elite exit velocities he has produced since the fortuitous November 2021 trade in which Tampa Bay acquired him from Cleveland for right-hander Tobias Myers.

Even though he was not in the big leagues by Sept. 1, Caminero will be eligible to join the Rays’ postseason roster because he was already in the organization.

Listed at 6-foot-1, 157 pounds, Caminero is closer to 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, a physical specimen who joins a Rays lineup whose 809 runs scored are the fourth-most in the major leagues this season. The Rays’ scoring has lagged in the second half, where they rank 13th in MLB, and in September, where they’re 16th.

With All-Star shortstop Wander Franco on administrative leave while police in the Dominican Republic and MLB investigate allegations of inappropriate relationships with minors, the Rays have rotated Taylor Walls, rookie Osleivis Basabe and Tristan Gray at shortstop while using Isaac Paredes regularly at third, spelled by rookie Curtis Mead and Jonathan Aranda.

Caminero was set to be added to the Rays’ major league roster this winter, but with a spate of left-handed pitching ahead for Tampa Bay and the potential he brings, the Rays summoned him. Fifteen months ago, Caminero was in extended spring training with Tampa Bay and, after destroying rookie league pitching, finished the season with 26 Low-A games.

The Rays challenged him with a promotion to High-A to start 2023 — and he hit .356/.409/.685 with 11 home runs. His move to Double-A didn’t slow him down, as Caminero was one of the Southern League’s best hitters despite playing just 81 games there, with a .309/.373/.548 line, 20 home runs and 62 RBIs.

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