Chicago Cubs Minors: Miguel Amaya has become an on-base machine

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Recently, the Chicago Cubs received terrible news on catcher P.J. Higgins, who will undergo right forearm flexor tendon repair and miss the rest of the season.

As Higgins sat third on the Cubs’ depth chart from Opening Day, the club is in a position where they may need to make a call on top catching prospect Miguel Amaya, currently at Double-A Tennessee.

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Amaya is a paradox. He does not hit for a high average, and yet he still produces at a respectable level. Catchers historically have not hit for a high average, so that fact shouldn’t surprise many people. The intricacies of his game should be examined, however, because he has been more impressive than initially meets the eye.

Chicago Cubs: Miguel Amaya continues to rise to the occasion

Amaya will not hit a high average at the next levels, and that is fine. Batting average to catchers is about as useful as wins are to pitchers. Don’t get me wrong – the average is more critical than pitcher wins – but it will not define the position or his role.

However, Amaya has done and is currently doing something very impressive for the Smokies. Over his past ten games dating back to the end of May, Amaya is hitting .167 yet reaching at .457 clip. In that time, the 22-year-old has notched a 28.3 percent walk rate and a 26.1 percent strikeout rate.

Overall, Amaya is slashing .215/.406/.304 over 113 plate appearances, and his numbers have been strong enough for a 117 wRC+. His defense is his most vital aspect. While his scouting reports have indicated above-average raw power, and believe me, he can hit, it’s less likely he will be a huge home run hitter at the big-league level.

Amaya has two minor league options available. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Amaya called up in September when rosters expand, but also it continues to make sense to allow his progression naturally. The Cubs remain in the challenging position not to overwork Willson Contreras, and right now, the only other catcher on the roster is 36-year-old José Lobatón, who is 0-for-8 with three strikeouts in four games.

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The smart move, of course, would be to keep Amaya where he is. However, the conversation needs to be at least had of promoting him. It would be fun to see him in the big leagues this year. Most likely, the top prospect ends the year in Iowa. If Amaya keeps this torrid rate up of reaching base, it won’t be easy to keep him down.