Just the other day, one of our readers sparked a conversation by worrying about what would happen if the Cubs lost either Yan Gomes or Tucker Barnhart to injury. This came on the heels of the Luis Torrens DFA, which we noted at the time was spurred in part by the hot start of Miguel Amaya at Double-A Tennessee. It now appears as though fate was listening.
Gomes left Monday’s win in the 2nd inning as the result of being conked in the back of the head with a backswing and was subsequently evaluated for a concussion. The Cubs haven’t announced yet whether he’ll have to spend time on the IL, but it looks like they’re at least preparing for that possibility. As Mark Gonzales tweeted late Monday night, the 24-year-old backstop is joining the Cubs in DC.
Miguel Amaya en route to DC
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) May 2, 2023
As you are probably aware by now, Amaya missed most of the three previous seasons due to the pandemic, elbow reconstruction, a dislocated finger, and a Lisfranc fracture. The snakebit former top-3 prospect in the system logged just 266 plate appearances in that time, 144 fewer than he’d gotten in 2019 at Myrtle Beach. Youth remains on his side, however, and he can still make up for the lost time.
Whether it’s a matter of maturing in general or having to focus more on his hitting because he couldn’t throw as much during his elbow rehab, Amaya looks like a totally different hitter this year. Always an above-average producer with excellent patience and on-base skills, he’s amped up the power in this latest go-round with the Smokies.
Through 56 PAs, Amaya is batting .273 with a 1.060 OPS and four homers, good for a 182 wRC+ that sits 60 points higher than he’s ever put up at any previous level. Even if that cools off, and it likely will to an extent, he’s always been lauded more for his skill behind the plate. Now he’ll get a chance to show what he’s got at the highest level.
Ed. note: That last link is from a piece about Scott Effross back in 2019, but I often go back to the quotes about Amaya. Though the catcher was only 20 at the time, he was a big part of helping Effross to navigate the journey of changing his pitching mechanics.
For those of you who are wondering why the Cubs would make the move to promote Amaya despite his lack of recent experience, the two-part answer is pretty simple. First, he’s the only other catcher on the 40-man roster after Torrens was let go. Second, being a right-handed batter creates a better pairing with Tucker Barnhart. The other option would have been Dom Nuñez, a lefty batter who’s not on the 40-man.
As much as I’d love to see Amaya show out, I really hope Gomes is able to get back on the field quickly.