Prospect Report: Miguel Amaya

Has all the makings of at least a future league average bat in a starting catcher

How acquired: International Free Agency 2015

Miguel Amaya is a divisive prospect in Cubs system rankings. There are some prognosticators who view Amaya as the no-doubt top prospect in the Cubs system with a future as an above-average bat and future all-star catcher. Others see a catcher putting in the work, but not breaking out like a Brennen Davis or Brailyn Marquez. It’s also fair to question how much the bat will play at the next level. And then you see this granny from Miguel Amaya and you wonder just how quick he can get a flight to Wrigley.

Hit

Baseball America listed Amaya as having the best strike zone judgment in the system. With players like Andy Weber, Chase Strumpf, and Alfonso Rivas in the Cubs organization, that is enormous praise. At this time I have it as an average hit tool. That’s about a .250-.260 hitter. With good strike zone judgement ideally leading to higher walk totals, that’s someone capable of a .340-.350 OBP.

Power

The power department is where Amaya has made the most successful development. What I had rated as solid average power in 2019 when he blasted 11 home runs in pitcher friendly Carolina League stadiums at the age of 20, appears to be blossoming into above-average power at least. I won’t lie, this is an unfair comparison. That swing looks reminiscent to Carlos Lee. I don’t believe Amaya will ever reach that level of power, especially considering it was a different offensive environment at the time, but I think there’s real power coming.

Below image lists every catcher (minimum 220 at bats) who achieved a 100 wRC+ or better (see stats below) in 2019. It’s not a long list with roughly half the league having a catcher who was an above average offensive performer. Miguel Amaya can certainly be that. The power and strike zone judgment leads you to dream on a top 10 bat at the position with a wOBA of around .340.

Fangraphs leaderboard from 2019

Field/Arm/Work with Pitchers

By all accounts, Amaya has made consistent progress with his defense. Reports out of the alternate site suggested that Miguel worked considerably on his framing and receiving. From my 2019 video review, it’s solid, but like all young catchers could get a bit erratic at times. Of note, it’s unlikely that Cubs officials are going to pan Amaya in the press so it’s not an unbiased opinion, however he still had heaps of praise. Losing out on 140 minor league games hurt countless players inside and outside the organization, but I’m not sure Amaya is one of them (or at least not to the same extent). Miguel getting to work with advanced minor league and even major league pitchers every day will ultimately benefit him taking the next step.

I had the arm as above-average in 2019. I think it’s better than that now. In limited viewing in the Winter Leagues, Miguel is showing off what could be a plus arm.

Pitchers love throwing to Miguel Amaya. As he takes that next step to big-league catcher, commanding the respect of pitchers a decade his senior will be vital to his success. No one knows the dynamic of a pitcher-catcher relationship like someone directly involved so I’ll just leave it to Cubs pitching prospect, Jack Patterson, via Greg Huss (@OutOfTheVines) to describe Amaya’s work with pitchers.

Speed

He’s a catcher. Cubs fans have been spoiled watching Willson Contreras’s speed (albeit not his baserunning) over the years. Miguel has below average speed and I think it may tick down from there. It’s not part of his game and not tied to future projections.

Future Projection

With all that said, I still have Amaya as the fifth best prospect in the Cubs system. Admittedly I created that ranking prior to watching Amaya bash doubles into the gap and come rumbling around first with so much moxie that Mike Matheny tried to call all the way from Kansas City to have the opposing team throw at him. But I am also mindful that Miguel’s body type is far more Victor Caratini than Willson Contreras at this stage. I do question what the body may look like in his 26-29 years. So much of a catcher’s success behind the plate is tied to lateral mobility and I would imagine the Cubs development staff is keenly aware of the steps needed to keep him a viable and better defensive catcher

I’ll stick with my 5th best in the system ranking. Amaya is, in my opinion, a definite Top 100 prospect. He’s close to the majors and an absolute field general. The bat looks like it’s continued to improve, he works extraordinarily well with pitchers, and he’s popping off back picks to 2B with ease. The featured image in the article is from 2017 when Miguel was the youngest player on the Eugene roster. My wife and I had tickets behind home plate. It was clear then that Amaya was absolutely a take-charge catcher. I looked to my wife in the 5th inning after he blocked a pitch in the dirt and looked the runner back to third before going to the mound to calm down the pitcher (Jose Albertos) and said “that is a future major league catcher”. Fans may not have to wait long for that prognostication to be fact.

StatisticNameDefinitionCalculation
wRC+Weighted runs createdAttempts to quantify total offensive value and extrapolate the data into total runs. It takes park effects into account. 100 wRC+ is average.See specific calculation at Fangraphs
wOBAWeighted on base averageMeasures a hitters overall offensive value by assigning a weighted factor to each individual outcome a hitter is in control of at the plate.See specific calculation at Fangraphs. Of note, this calculation changes annually.