Miguel Amaya is a 6-foot-2 catcher in the Chicago Cubs organization, currently playing for the double-A affiliate Tennessee Smokies; he is also the third-ranked prospect in the Cubs’ development system, behind Brailyn Marquez and Brennen Davis.
The 22-year-old Panamanian catcher signed for $1 million in the 2015-16 season and was the standout in Chicago’s international pool of talent, an area that invested $29.6 million in, more than any team in the league that season.
Amaya has been a project since he signed with the Cubs, spending time at an alternate training site to learn the art of pitch calling behind the plate, as well as building his frame up to the 230-pound mark that he is at.
The current Smokie is now the most captivating hitter that has ever been evaluated— in 23 double-A games this season, Amaya has hit .215, one home run, and 13 runs batted in. Before that, he had seasons at the single-A level where he hit .256, .235, and .228, all with lower HR totals.
Miguel Amaya’s potential
Despite his underwhelming numbers, Amaya has been much younger than most of his competition thus far. He has also consistently posted proficient on-base percentages, averaging .338 for his young career; for comparison, .320 is considered to be average.
Chicago projects that Amaya can develop into a decent hitter if he can fulfill the potential that they believe he has.
“If he learns to drive the ball more consistently, he could develop into a .260 hitter with 15-20 homers per season,” says the team’s website.
The gem of Chicago’s international crop was not brought in to immediately dominate the league with his offensive ability; however, Amaya is an impressive defender and has continued to grow at catching and blocking home plate, throwing out 35% of stolen base attempts, better than the major-league standard.
Although the Cubs are one of the premier defensive teams, having committed the sixth-fewest errors in the league, they are just outside the bottom third in stolen bases allowed; that responsibility falls at the feet of Wilson Contreras, the team’s starting catcher.
Contreras was a fearsome hitter when he entered the league in 2016, hitting .282 for 12 home runs in 76 games, but has regressed ever since then. The sixth-year catcher has already hit for 13 homers this season but at a .238 average, a far cry off of where he once was in his career.
The Cubs are currently sitting at 42-33 and atop the National League Central Division, fresh off of a combined no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Chicago may not be ready to call up their elite prospect following the success of this season, but he should be expected to feature within the next couple of years with how highly he is rated.
Amaya can expedite his promotion to the big show by demonstrating supreme control of the plate in the absence of incredible hitting talent and by continuing to grow in his pitch-calling. If he can get near the major league standard for batting average, he is almost guaranteed to get called up.
The future is bright in Chicago, with Amaya right behind Marquez and Davis in the Cubs’ prospect rankings. He is the future of the team behind the plate and might not be too far away from getting a call-up.
Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.