Rays top prospect Caminero to miss 4-6 weeks with quad strain

May 29th, 2024

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays have made it clear since Spring Training that they weren’t going to rush top prospect back to the big leagues, even with their lineup struggling.

Now, they’ll be without Caminero for at least a month for reasons beyond their control.

Caminero, MLB Pipeline’s No. 3 overall prospect, sustained a Grade 2 left quad strain on Tuesday night and was placed on the Minor League seven-day injured list on Wednesday afternoon. The 20-year-old slugger is projected to miss four to six weeks, a recovery timeline that would leave him sidelined until July.

Caminero, who missed about two weeks in April due to a prior left quad strain, appeared to sustain the injury while trying to run out a ground ball in the ninth inning of Triple-A Durham’s 8-3 loss to Jacksonville on Tuesday night. Batting with two on and two outs, Caminero slapped a full-count cutter to the left side of the infield and hustled to first. He was thrown out and seemed to hop gingerly after running down the first-base line.

It’s a tough break for Caminero, who was slashing .261/.333/.478 with eight home runs and 24 RBIs in 34 games for Durham. The powerful third baseman was mired in a rare slump at the plate at the time of his injury, too, having gone 3-for-36 with 13 strikeouts over his past nine games.

Caminero made his Major League debut sooner than expected last September, jumping straight from Double-A Montgomery to support an injury-depleted lineup against left-handed pitchers. The Rays optioned him to the Minors to begin this season, an understandable move given his lack of upper-level Minor League experience, but calls for his promotion have surged with every sluggish performance by Tampa Bay’s lineup this season.

President of baseball operations Erik Neander made it clear last week that the Rays weren’t going to bring Caminero back until he showed he was ready both at the plate and in the field, especially considering how difficult the adjustment has proven to be this season for other top prospects, although Neander reiterated that the club has been thrilled with his development.

“For us, it’s just making sure with a 20- and, later this year, going on 21-year-old, that we put him in the best possible position for success and to weather any early struggles as he acclimates,” Neander said last week. “That’s our goal, but he’s on his way to being a really special Major League player.”