Miguel Amaya was picking up groceries Monday night at a gas station in Huntsville, Ala., when he received an unexpected call.
Double-A Tennessee manager Michael Ryan summoned Amaya to the team hotel and informed the 24-year-old catcher he wouldn’t be in the Smokies lineup Tuesday. Instead, a flight to Washington in the morning to join the Chicago Cubs awaited Amaya, who earned his first big-league call-up.
“It hasn’t been easy,” Amaya said in front of his locker in the visitors clubhouse at Nationals Park. “It’s been a roller coaster, ups and downs. A lot of work mentally, of course physically … so happy to be here joining the team and being with this beautiful team.”
Amaya initially was on the taxi squad when he arrived at the ballpark but was informed shortly after he was being added to the active roster. The Cubs designated left-hander Ryan Borucki for assignment as the corresponding move. Catcher Yan Gomes continues to be evaluated after being struck in the head on a backswing during the first inning Monday.
Amaya’s promotion comes after just 76 minor-league games and 322 plate appearances since 2019. Between the pandemic and injuries — Tommy John surgery and a Lisfranc injury in his left foot that affected him the last two years — Amaya’s on-field opportunities have been limited. It doesn’t diminish his standing as one of the organization’s top prospects, a young catcher who could provide an all-around impact on the big-league club.
It’s unclear how long Gomes might be sidelined. If he needs to go on the concussion injured list, it requires a seven-day minimum stay. The Cubs expected to get a look at Amaya sometime this season, his last with a minor-league option.
Amaya’s inconsistent playing time the last three years hasn’t seemed to hinder him offensively. He began the season posting a .273 average, .411 on-base percentage and 1.070 OPS at Double A with four home runs and five doubles in 13 games.
“At the end of last year I had the chance to play for a little bit, so I kind of got in rhythm by that time,” Amaya said. “So in my mind, I already knew where my swing was. So you just get here, do the simple things and get the quality at-bats and just keep it going every day.”
When Amaya makes his MLB debut, he will become the first player from Panama to appear in a game for the Cubs since right-hander Manny Corpas in 2012 and the first position player since infielder/outfielder José Macías in 2005. Amaya’s parents, Max and Anny, are flying in from Panama and will be at the game Wednesday.
It took an hour for Amaya to get ahold of his parents to share the news Monday night. When they finally answered, they were shocked. Tears flowed on both ends of the phone call.
“It’s something we’ve been waiting for so long,” Amaya said. “It’s been up and down, like I said, but now we’re here and it’s time to grind.”