Caminero has velocity, but control key to roster spot

Clocked at 101 mph, reliever tries to limit walks, earn role with Marlins in 2013

Caminero has velocity, but control key to roster spot

JUPITER, Fla. -- All eyes promise to turn to the speed gun readings when Arquimedes Caminero takes the mound this spring.

The 25-year-old right-hander is considered to have the best fastball in the Marlins' organization. An intimidating 6-foot-4, 243 pounds, Caminero has been clocked at 101 mph.

In terms of being a pure power arm, no one in Miami's camp can match him. When it comes to style of pitching, the way Caminero throws the ball reminds some in the organization of a young Jose Valverde.

What the organization is looking to see in Spring Training is if the Dominican Republic native will show the necessary command to make the Opening Day roster.

If he can, he could be an intimidating presence in the late innings.

"That's good stuff," manager Mike Redmond said. "So now, it's really a matter of fine-tuning. He can be one of those guys who comes out and really surprises you. He could find something that clicks and goes out there and dominates hitters. He's got the stuff to dominate hitters."

Based on the velocity, Caminero clearly has the makings of being a future closer. Of course, he has to prove himself. And most likely, when he reaches the big leagues, it will be in a setup role.

"We'll get him out there and see what he's got," Redmond said. "Hopefully he can find that consistency."

With such a strong arm, chances are he could have already been in the big leagues, if he didn't miss the 2011 season due to Tommy John surgery.

A year ago, Caminero bounced back. He regained the power, throwing as hard as he did beforehand. He made appearances at Class A Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville, and combined to strike out 44 in 38 1/3 innings.

At the end of the year, he spent a month in Jacksonville, appearing in 12 games while striking out 17 in 17 2/3 innings. Command, though, was a factor. He walked 10.

If Caminero shows he is ready in Spring Training, he very well could make the Marlins out of camp.

"I'm just trying to do my job and throw strikes," Caminero said. "Get my breaking ball in the zone and get outs. They will do what they think is best for me."

Foremost, he is working on consistency in his delivery.

"My arm action is good," he said. "I've got to go quicker to the plate."

Caminero on Tuesday faced hitters for the first time in Spring Training. In eight minutes, he came as advertised. He threw very hard, got some swings and misses, but also lost the strike zone on occasion. One slider got away from him and clipped the instep of left-handed-hitting infield prospect Danny Black.

"I told him, 'I'm a speed guy, you can't be doing that,'" Black joked.

Black was a teammate of Caminero a year ago.

"He's fun to watch," Black said.

Hitters certainly aren't comfortable with an effectively wild right-hander on the mound.

"You don't want to hit there," pitching coach Chuck Hernandez said. "But you've got to prove to Major League hitters that you're going to make some quality pitches. If not, they will wait you out. If they wait you out, they will let you work yourself into your own trouble."

Caminero attacks hitters with a slightly lowered arm angle, but he doesn't go as much sidearm as closer Steve Cishek.

"I've been throwing that way for a long time," Caminero said.

Along with his blazing fastball, Caminero also mixes in a split-finger fastball and his slider.

As pitching coach of the Tigers a few years ago, Hernandez worked with one of the hardest throwing relievers ever -- Joel Zumaya, clocked at 104 mph.

By comparison, the only similarities Hernandez sees in the two is they both have reached the century mark in velocity. Otherwise, in terms of their mechanics, they are entirely different.

"Caminero has a little more of a lower-arm angle," Hernandez said. "He kind of bends over a little bit more. Zumaya was more traditionally tall and upright. He threw the ball downhill. They're not really the same."

At his best, Zumaya also repeatedly was able to get first-pitch strikes.

"As a rookie, he had one of the highest strike one rates in the big leagues," Hernandez said. "There is a reason why he was good. If you start elevating and doing some other stuff, it's a different ballgame."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.