Cubs Prospect Focus: Miguel Amaya
Matt Kartozian - USA Today Sports

Cubs Prospect Focus: Miguel Amaya

by - Senior Writer -

We have reached the mid-way point of the Top 30 prospects as we begin to enter the cream of the crop. However, there are still players in this range who we don't know a ton about, given their injury history and lack of production when healthy.

One of those players happens to land at No. 16, who was once a top prospect in the Cubs system many moons ago. Throw in several big-time draft picks, great trades, and of course, injuries, and this guy went from being a top-three prospect down to No. 16. Still, to see him sitting not only in the top 30, but at No. 16 leads me to believe that many people still believe in his abilities if he can stay healthy.

The man is the Cubs top catching prospect, Miguel Amaya, who hasn't been able to catch a break. This guy was being groomed to replace Willson Contreras and who was supposed to be up last season, if not in 2021. However, a series of injuries have derailed that from happening, and now you have to wonder what the plans are for him if he doesn't show improvements this season.

Amaya is no stranger to the Cubs system as he was an International Pickup in 2015. That makes him one of the longest-tenured players in the organization, along with Adbert Alzolay, who is still just 23 years old. A catcher by trade, Amaya has been forced to play some first base and DH in recent seasons as a series of injuries have prevented him from staying behind the plate.

When healthy, Amaya is a defense-first catcher who knows how to call a game and can pitch frame with the best of them. He also has a strong and accurate arm behind the dish, which helps prevent teams from stealing on Cubs pitchers. Offensively, is where his development has taken a hit, but when you look at the direction the Cubs have gone with catcher, they may prefer defense over the offense at this point.

Going back to 2016, when Amaya broke in with the Cubs, you have seen flashes of the top prospect, but also flashes of being a bust. He is just a .243 career hitter, but he was hitting a career-best .261 last season in 40 games before getting hurt yet again. With 34 career homers and 193 RBIs, the power has yet to come as quickly as the Cubs have hoped, as he has yet to hit more than 12 homers in a season.

2018 was his best overall season, one of the few times he remained healthy. Across 116 games with South Bend that season, Amaya hit .256 with a career-high 12 homers and 56 RBIs. Those are not elite numbers, but if he can do that consistently, he will be a valuable asset to this Cubs team.

Amaya is also known for an excellent eye at the plate, as he often takes close to as many walks as strikeouts. For an organization that has struggled with that, Amaya would be a breath of fresh air if he can keep that up into the majors. When the Cubs drafted Amaya out of Panama, he signed for 1.3 million, and it took him only a little while to emerge as the organization's best-catching prospect, where he has stayed for several years.

Although limited to just 40 games this season, Amaya was finally starting to show signs of life offensively, which is what this organization has been waiting for. Despite that, his defense is miles ahead of his offense as he has worked to become a better receiver and pitch blocker and has used his strong arm to throw out 38% of attempted base stealers. That ranks in the top 5% in minor league baseball and would be right up there with some of the best in the MLB.

Despite his average barely hovering above .240, Amaya has done a great job commanding the strike zone and continues to make consistent contact. The results may not show that, but a lot of times, the contact he is making is right at people, which has hurt the overall production thus far.

Amaya has shown the ability to barrel up a baseball and use the entire field, which is a pleasant sign for any young hitter. Ideally, the Cubs would like him to generate a little more power, but if he can consistently hit .260 with 15-plus homers, they will take that without question. 2023 is as big a year as any for Amaya, as he will need to stay healthy and prove he can hit AAA pitching to continue being the top catcher in the system.

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