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MLB Rookie Profile: Johan Camargo, INF, Atlanta Braves

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Rookie infielder Johan Camargo is hitting well for the Atlanta Braves. Can he keep it going?

Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

This is “catch up on the backlog of rookie profiles” week, continuing with Atlanta Braves infielder Johan Camargo.

The Braves signed Johan Camargo as a free agent from Panama back in 2010. He started off well, hitting .343 in the 2012 Dominican Summer League and .294/.359/.360 in the 2013 Appalachian League. He then settled in as a .260ish hitter up the ladder, with a .266/.313/.326 A-ball line in ‘14 and a similar .258/.315/.335 mark in ‘15.

He played four Double-A Mississippi in 2016, hitting .267/.304/.379, showing a bit more isolated power. He’s split 2017 between Triple-A Gwinnett and the major leagues, called up first on April 11th, sent back to the minors on April 20th, recalled on May 17th, back down on May 21st, and now back in the Show again as of June 2nd.

With all the roster jumping he’s found time to hit .311/.353/.500 in 122 at-bats for Gwinnett and .318/.333/.409 in 44 major league at-bats with one walk and 12 strikeouts.

Camargo is listed at 6-0, 160, a switch-hitter, born December 13th, 1993. Scouts have long projected him as a utility infielder and he has that skill set, demonstrating sufficient range, hands, and arm strength to handle all of the infield positions. The Braves have used him primarily at third base in the majors and he’s been quite good with the leather so far.

He’s hitting this year, too. This is out of context with the rest of his career. While he’s always made contact in the minors, there was little strength or power projection in his bat. There was a spike of isolated power in 2016 but the change was small enough to be random variation.

However, that spike has carried forward to Triple-A this year, where he has already tied his career high in home runs with four and is slugging .500. Of course, that’s just 122 at-bats with Gwinnett. In the majors he’s 14-for-44 for a .318 average but with a flashing caution sign in a 1/12 BB/K ratio.

I still find it implausible that Camargo will become a consistent power hitter but he’s only 23 and sometimes it does not take much in the way of a strength gain for a hitter to blossom into some gap pop. Of greater concern is his approach, which is aggressive enough for pitchers to exploit. He won’t keep hitting like this with a 1:12 BB/K mark.

For me Camargo still profiles as a utilityman, albeit a valuable one with his defense. Anything he adds offensively will be a bonus.

We have many Braves fans in the Minor League Ball community: please share your observations and opinions about Camargo.