Johan Camargo is no longer a surprise. He’s no longer the overperforming prospect. He’s no longer the new, relatively unknown utilityman.
But he might be the Braves’ new starting third baseman.
Camargo has gotten off to a pedestrian start this spring, slashing .231/.267/.805, though he’s picked it up lately.
Stats won’t show the most relevant Camargo spring observation: He’s bigger, stronger and more confident heading into Year 2.
“I feel great this spring,” he said. “You know, every day I’m working on everything I need to do. I think I’m getting more muscle, bigger body. But you know, I’ve been working on my swing, too.”
Camargo had only four homers in 241 at-bats in his rookie season. He hit a mammoth shot Tuesday and hit a RBI-double that flew off the bat Friday.
After teasing an unlikely power surge in the Dominican Winter League, Camargo returned to Atlanta, unveiling a much more physically imposing figure, a point of emphasis for him in the offseason.
For a team admittedly concerned about its lack of power, any improvement is welcome.
He’s more comfortable in the clubhouse as well after playing in 82 games in 2017, including hitting .313 in June (23 games) and later supplanting a struggling Dansby Swanson at shortstop until suffering a bizarre pregame injury Aug. 8.
“I know everybody here already, so I feel great seeing my teammates,” he said. “To me, that’s confidence. They help me. The thing is just my focus on the game, learning from (last season’s) experience.”
Camargo has learned what to look for in major league pitchers. He’s put work into studying each arm and the accompanied repertoire.
“The kid just keeps getting better, getting bigger, stronger, more mature,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said Tuesday. “I really, really like that young man.”
Snitker isn’t alone. The Braves opted not to pursue a starting-caliber third baseman in the trade or free-agent market, with giving Camargo an opportunity among the chief reasons why.
It’s up to him to go take it, and if he does, it’s up to him to keep it.