We Could See Catching Prospect Miguel Amaya in a Spring Training Game Soon
Who knows how things would’ve played out for catching prospect Miguel Amaya and the Chicago Cubs if the pandemic hadn’t kept him off the competitive field in 2020. Or if he hadn’t injured his arm in mid-2021. Or if that injury hadn’t ultimately required Tommy John surgery. Or if he hadn’t suffered a fracture in his foot soon after returning from the elbow surgery. We’ll never know.
All we know is that Amaya, who turns 24 in three days, has appeared in just 63 affiliated games since 2019, many of them as DH.
For a guy who was rightly considered the Cubs’ top catching prospect for so many years – he was a plus-glove youngster who always hit – it’s so much missed time that, in addition to not knowing how things might’ve turned out otherwise, we don’t know what he is now. Amaya could BALL OUT from here and emerge as the Cubs’ obvious starting catcher for 2024, and I wouldn’t be shocked. Or, the missed time and the injuries and maybe some latent issues that would’ve always presented themselves at Triple-A and in MLB, wind up meaning he just doesn’t make it to the show, even as a back-up. That, unfortunately, seems just as plausible at this point.
I like to have hope, though, and we might finally start to see Amaya FULLY back in action very soon, hitting and catching:
Per the Tribune, Amaya has been playing in simulated games at the back fields, doing everything (catching, hitting, running) without issue. Good, good.
The extra challenge with Amaya is that, because he reached the 40-man roster several years ago, he’s already on his final minor league option year. That means, assuming he uses that final option year in 2023 (he will), he’ll have to make the big league roster NEXT Spring Training, or be subjected to waivers.
Maybe by next year that won’t be a big deal – for example, if one of the two previously mentioned extreme outcomes happens this year – but the most likely outcome for this year is that Amaya puts himself on the radar for big league appearances in 2024. But maybe it’s still an open question in the offseason whether he’s ready to be a big league catcher just yet. That’s going to put a ton of pressure on him and the Cubs next spring.
So, then, the more information – and development! – they can get this year, the better. Hopefully that starts with game action soon, and then hopefully we find out that Amaya is already ready for Triple-A to open the regular season (he’s been out a lot, yes, but he could have been developing that whole time). He has only 53 games at Double-A between 2021 and 2022, so the initial assignment for this season is still an open question. I was really high on Amaya before all the injuries and missed time, thanks to how much success he was having offensively at such a young age and as a catcher, a defensive role for which he was also very well-regarded.