Miguel Amaya Shows Well-Rounded Skills
Catcher Miguel Amaya isn’t as athletic as Willson Contreras or hyped like Eloy Jimenez. But Amaya is ahead of where the Cubs catcher was at this point in his career. And Amaya is performing in the Midwest League at the age of 19, just like the prized prospect the Cubs traded to the White Sox last summer for Jose Quintana.
Amaya, who signed out of Panama in 2015, is showing signs of being a legitimate two-way catcher at low Class A South Bend, hitting .272/.344/.460 with 10 home runs through 72 games. He is also emerging at a time when the farm system is tilted towards pitching prospects.
"I don’t want to put him in the pantheon of Gleyber Torres and Eloy,” said Jason McLeod, the senior vice president of scouting and player development. "But when you just look at the age for level—and especially when you factor in the position as well—(he’s hitting) for average. He’s hitting for power. He’s controlling the strike zone fairly well.
"We absolutely think that he’s got the skill set and the intangibles to be a frontline catcher. He’s got the arm strength. He sets well. At this juncture in his career, I’d say we’re all really pleased with what he’s doing defensively back there.”
BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD
Second baseman Trent Giambrone is a completely off-the-radar name as a 26th-round pick out of Delta State (Miss.) in 2016.
But the Cubs see similarities between the 24-year-old Giambrone and Triple-A Iowa third baseman David Bote. Bote is a versatile, well-rounded, overlooked player who made his big league debut this season and fits Joe Maddon’s style of managing.
At Double-A Tennessee this year, Giambrone hit .254/.313/..450 with 11 home runs and 18 stolen bases through 75 games. He played primarily second base while also moving around the infield and the outfield.
"The numbers don’t jump off the page,” McLeod said. "But he’s hitting for power. He’s leading the team in stolen bases. He’s playing the middle of the field. He’s kind of like my Bote 2.0 a little bit.”
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** The Cubs annually look for pitching help at the trade deadline, but they already have one possible in-house option in the form of Iowa righthander Dillon Maples, whom Maddon compared with Yankees all-star reliever Dellin Betances for his power breaking ball. That's assuming Maples can continue to command his fastball, limit walks and build his confidence.
"People call it a slider,” Maddon said. "Oh my God, it’s bigger than that. If you want to compare it to a pitcher today, it’s kind of like Betances. It’s got that kind of super-break to it. It’s above and beyond.”