During the mid-200s B.C., Greek mathematician Archimedes made tremendous contributions in the sciences at his home in Syracuse, Sicily. Over 2,200 years later, his namesake, right-handed fireballer Arquimedes Caminero is destined to make his mark on the mound in Syracuse, New York.
With 149 major league relief appearances under his belt, Caminero has accomplished more than countless other touted pitching prospects, but his success has been anything but consistent. After two seasons in Japan in an attempt to recalibrate, the now-31-year-old earned a minor league contract with the Mets. His first appearance of the regular season will come nearly 1,000 days after his last in affiliated ball, which came on the final day of the 2016 season.
It took Caminero nearly nine seasons (he missed all of 2011 after elbow surgery, to be fair) to traverse the Miami Marlins’ minor league system before making his major league debut in August 2013. After expending all of his minor league options following the 2014 season, he was designated for assignment and traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
With a new organization, Caminero flourished, making 73 appearances for the eventual NL Wild Card Game participant. While his strikeouts were down that season, he made the most important improvement: cutting down on walks, issuing 3.5 free passes per nine after hovering around five for most of his minor league career.
Things did not go well in 2016, as Caminero’s walks were back up, and his home run rate, while not quite at Marlins levels, was not worthy of a bullpen spot. He was traded in August for cash considerations (for the second time in his career) to the Mariners, who released him in December to pursue opportunities in Asia.
Caminero returned to the United States to have surgery to clean up his elbow in early September, but he is expected to be at full strength in Spring Training.
In his time in the major leagues, Caminero was one of the hardest throwers in the game:
Arquimedes Caminero is kind of an interesting signing by the Mets, even on a Minors deal.
His 4-seamer averaged 98.8 mph from 2015-16 before he went to Japan… 2nd-highest in MLB behind Aroldis Chapman. He hit 100+ mph 253 times, 3rd-most behind Chapman and Mauricio Cabrera.
— David Adler (@_dadler) January 4, 2019
That velocity, with the Pirates and Mariners, was a noticeable jump over that in his time with the Marlins, when his fastball averaged 96.4 mph.
Caminero had mostly been a fastball/slider pitcher with Miami, but his repertoire became all hard stuff in 2015 when Ray Searage had a chance to get his hands on him. Caminero scrapped his slider completely and increased the usage of his cutter by 18%.
Despite the velocity, his fourseam fastball has historically been hit hard, inducing .263 and .331 batting averages against in 2015 and 2016, his cut and split-finger fastballs have been untouchable, holding hitters to sub-.200 averages in the same two seasons.
In Japan, Caminero was one of the NPB’s best relievers, finishing third in the Central League with 29 saves while posting a 2.98 ERA, 9.2 K/9, and 3.3 BB/9 in 2017. His numbers last season were rough, but in only 18.2 innings it can probably be attributed to the ailment that necessitated surgery.
How he fits
Based on upside, Caminero has as good a chance as any of the Mets’ non-roster invitees to crack the opening day roster as a final addition to the bullpen. It’s going to be hard for the team to send him to Syracuse to start the season if he comes out firing 100 mph bullets in Spring Training games, but his arm strength post-surgery still remains to be seen.
Still, having Caminero as relief depth at Triple-A is a major improvement over previous seasons. If promoted, however, he is out of minor league options, meaning he would have to be exposed to waivers if the Mets want to remove him from the 25-man roster but keep him in the organization.
Statistics via Baseball-Reference, Fangraphs, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Brooks Baseball, Quality of Pitch, and Statcorner.