Panamanian native Miguel Antonio Amaya turned in a pretty good year, he being one of the rookies that stepped up. He went from an injured prospect-turning-suspect to a major-league backup and made it look easy, turning in a .214/.320/.359 campaign in 131 at-bats, and showing every sign that his BA and OBP could/would be higher with more time.
He had some phantom swings but showed easy power to left and decent enough bat control.
The pitchers seemed to like throwing to him. He had some ball-handling issues, but nothing that would disqualify him. He’s 24 years old and will spend 2024 learning the trade from Yan Gomes, one of the best in the catching business and certainly a man with much experience, on a team where the manager was a backup catcher.
Could be worse.
The home run breakdown on his MLB page says that Amaya likes the ball up and in. He had two home runs from that location, and one each from the surrounding areas, though his highest average exit velocity was right down the middle. That’s true for a lot of hitters, and why pitchers don’t like to heave the rock in that area.
But the Cubs DFA’d Tucker Barnhart because of Amaya’s showing, and he never went back back to Iowa after his June 3 callup. A good 2024 campaign would put Amaya in line for starting duties in 2025, when the Cubs will presumably be in position to challenge for championships.
I wouldn’t bet against him.Baseball America has his fielding at 50 and his arm at 60. Josh wrote about him just the other day. 73 percent of voters said he’d turn out to be a solid starting catcher. I definitely do not disagree.
The Cubs have use for such a creature. Tony Andracki in his recent State of the Cubs piece had this quote from Jed Hoyer:
“A year ago, I did not expect Amaya to be up that much during the course of the season and provide that much impact for us,” Jed Hoyer said earlier this month. “Credit to him — he’d been hurt so much — to get in great shape over the winter and frankly staying healthy.
“He was a top prospect before he had the Tommy John [surgery], the Lisfranc injury — he had serious injuries, but he’s come back from that and he’s going to be a really good major league player.”
Andracki went on from there:
“Amaya was often paired with Kyle Hendricks and learned a lot from the veteran right-hander. Though he didn’t receive a ton of playing time, it was a very valuable season for Amaya to soak up everything he could as the catcher of the future.”
Patrick Mooney [$] says that the Cubs think Amaya is the real deal.
“He sees the hitters perfectly,” Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks said. “He knows what they’re trying to do, whether they’re getting on the plate, getting off the plate, certain things like that. He just sees the game. He’s going to be great for a long time.”
Progress isn’t always linear. Here, have a homer [VIDEO].
We can look forward to more of that.