WASHINGTON -- Johan Camargo came to Spring Training this year looking to prove he deserved a chance to at least serve as a utility player at the Major League level. He has entered the All-Star break as a legitimate candidate to serve as an everyday member of Atlanta's lineup over
WASHINGTON -- Johan Camargo came to Spring Training this year looking to prove he deserved a chance to at least serve as a utility player at the Major League level. He has entered the All-Star break as a legitimate candidate to serve as an everyday member of Atlanta's lineup over the remainder of this season.
Camargo strengthened his resume and further legitimized comparisons to a young Martin Prado as he notched his second straight three-hit game during Sunday afternoon's 10-5 loss to the Nationals. The Braves' rookie highlighted his final game before the All-Star break by opening the sixth inning with the first homer of his young career.
"I'm just grateful and thankful for this opportunity that I've gotten," Camargo said. "I'm happy going into the break and it's business as usual. I'm going to take these couple days [during the break] to rest up a little bit and then get back to work and try to be consistent."
Camargo has been a model of consistency since being recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett in early June to experience his third stint of the season on Atlanta's roster. He has slashed .344/.374/.538 in 100 plate appearances since returning to the big league level. He has produced a .960 OPS during the 23 starts made within this span and provided a reliable glove, whether positioned at third base or either of the two middle infield spots.
His first career homer was a no-doubter as he turned on Matt Grace's 0-1 slider and sent it over the Braves' bullpen in left-center field. The sixth inning leadoff shot had a 107 mph exit velocity and traveled a projected 422 feet -- the 10th-longest homer hit by a Braves player this year per Statcast™.
"You look at this kid and he's a good piece going forward with his versatility," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I'm not convinced he's not an everyday big leaguer somewhere. The kid has got skills. He's going to get bigger and stronger. The biggest thing for me is the growth physically and mentally and the maturity this kid has shown over the last couple of years."
Camargo made a pair of starts at shortstop this past week in place of Dansby Swanson, who hit just .118 (4-for-34) over his final 11 games before the break and also committed his 15th error on Sunday. But at this point, it seems more likely his most likely everyday role will come at one of the other infield spots.
If the Braves opt to trade Matt Adams, Freddie Freeman will return to first base and Camargo would be the top candidate to serve as Atlanta's primary third baseman. He could also serve as the starting second baseman if Brandon Phillips is traded. But that role could also be given to Sean Rodriguez, who is expected to return from left shoulder surgery by the end of this month.
"[Camargo] is skilled," Snitker said. "He's going to get bigger and stronger. He's got skills, and skills play here. When you do good, you've got to find somewhere for them to play."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.