Tampa Bay Rays can afford to be patient with Junior Caminero

A move was recently made by the Tampa Bay Rays that would make shortstop Junior Caminero start the season in Triple-A. Despite the great upside, Tampa Bay can afford to do this because of thier current infield.

Tampa Bay Rays Photo Day
Tampa Bay Rays Photo Day / Elsa/GettyImages

On Monday, the Tampa Bay Rays made camp cuts while in the midst of spring training. One of the moves made included sending Junior Caminero down to the Triple-A level with the Durham Bulls. Caminero is the 4th overall prospect in the MLB Pipeline top 100.

It is fair to say that the Rays lineup gets an electric upgrade when Caminero is at the plate. His .324 batting average and .384 on-base percentage in 2023 make him a very strong all-around hitter. His 31 home runs and 94 RBI over the course of 460 at-bats also make him a scorer. In short, Tampa Bay has an offensive weapon sitting in their farm system.

The Rays may not see fit to open the 2024 season with Caminero in their lineup, but they have gained plenty throughout this offseason to keep the infield strong. Amed Rosario, the former Los Angeles Dodger, has had a promising spring training at shortstop with a .300 batting average in 30 at-bats. His two home runs and two stolen bases have also made him a facilitator on offense.

Jose Caballero, who was picked up in a trade with the Seattle Mariners, is also a big time looking small-ball player, the type of guy whom the Rays love to have. In spring training, he has had 23 at-bats for six hits, leading to a .261 average. Although he does not seem to have the power that both Caminero and Rosario have, he is a big time base-stealing threat that can sit in the middle infield on defense.

Tampa Bay also has Osleivis Basabe at short stop. He has a .333 batting average in 42 at-bats with an OPS of .816. He is another Rays infielder that could get a crack at a lot of starts at least during the beginning of the season.

Tampa Bay has time and options before they throw in their "golden egg" prospect in at shortstop. They have guys with MLB experience and even experience within the Rays organization that can be threats, as well as likely competent during the season while Caminero continues to develop.