Daz Cameron has been a polarizing minor leaguer through the Tigers fanbase. A once Top 30 prospect traded to the Tigers in the Justin Verlander deal, Cameron had a promising future. The son of the former all-star outfielder has had an up and down minor league career, posting one above average minor league WRC+ season since the 2018 trade to Detroit.
There has been plenty of type on the issues of Detroit player development and the rotating door of minor league hitting coaches probably has not helped. One would assume, based on the current players on the Astros, that Cameron would most likely be playing center field. Before comparing Cameron to the current glut of below average outfielders in Detroit, the comparison to Jake Meyers should first be analyzed.
Meyers is 26 years old, a right-handed batter with 40th percentile max exit velo and 90th percentile speed per baseball savant. He generally pulls the ball and has positive run value this season against curveballs and sinkers. After putting together a successful 2021 campaign on the peripherals, he was designated the CF position with no clear veteran as Brantley allows Tucker to play his more natural position.
Meyers is an above average center fielder, with 5 Outs Above Average in his 123 PA as an Astro this season. For all of those watching at home, Riley Greene has -1 Outs Above Average. His average sprint speed does not help despite getting good jumps. Fangraphs has his arm ranked as a 45 on the 20-80 scale, which makes him a below average arm as well. Those do not make a center fielder, but it does if there are no clear options.
The argument for Daz Cameron is that he is the clear-cut option. Like Meyers, Cameron has 83rd percentile sprint speed. His bat is hot and hasn’t had below average pop in his short career. Although Daz may strike out too much, and not walk enough to make up for that, the Tigers optioned the wrong person down to the Minors. To put Daz’s hitting possibilities into perspective, if he were hitting in a neutral park, he would have 3 homeruns this season, and 5 in hitter friendly parks. Neither of those "expected" homeruns are pulled baseballs, which just goes to show the inherent multiple fields power Daz showed early in his career. Extrapolating that kind of hitting over 450 plate appearances for a full season and pairing that number with the stolen base numbers he has, Cameron would be a 20 homerun and 12 stolen base outfielder with a better capability of playing center than the current options.
There’s a little bit more to it than that. When analyzing Cameron’s peripheral numbers like average hit angle, average velocity, average hit angle, and barrel percentage, there are two qualified hitters that fit the exact batted ball profile this year. Those two hitters are Mookie Betts and Gleyber Torres. Obviously, the former Astros minor leaguer isn’t going to be Mookie Betts, so looking at him compared to other Outfielders batted ball profile may help. Based on how often Cameron pulls the ball versus hitting to the opposite field, hard, soft and medium contact percentages, and fly ball rates, Cameron most likely resembles Luke Raley and Marwin Gonzalez.
Carpenter makes perfect sense for a team lacking power. His hit tool is outstanding for a minor leaguer. The argument that needs to be made is that Cameron has current floor of Luke Raley or Marwin Gonzalez but has the pure power potential to make him an above average everyday CENTER fielder. Kerry Carpenter isn’t a center fielder, Riley Greene isn’t a center fielder, Victor Reyes isn’t a center fielder, and Baddoo can’t hit. The move to send down Daz is interestingly shortsighted.
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