From time to time, BP Wrigleyville’s Stan Croussett translates, with commentary, Spanish-language interviews into English for the benefit of those readers who might not otherwise be able to access the insights therein. The series, which this Editor has today dubbed “Found in Translation,” continues today with Miguel Amaya. Please note: the lead photograph for this story has nothing to do with Amaya, due to the dearth of images available, and instead features Addison Russell. We trust you won’t mind.
Miguel Amaya is a 16-year-old catcher who was signed in late July of 2015 for $1.25 million out of Panama. According to Baseball America’s rankings, Amaya was the 22nd-best prospect in the 2015-16 international spending period, mostly on the back of his advanced feel for catching. At a young age, BA reports, he shows tremendous blocking technique, soft hands, and early signs of innate framing skills.
After signing, the Cubs assigned the young Panamanian to their academy in the Dominican Republic. There, Amaya says “we’ve worked hard on our game as receivers and on our physicality. Everything has been new there—the exercises, the diet, and the training methods were different at that level.”
Amaya was given permission to play out the 2016 season in Panama, perhaps partly because he’ll be under the supervision of two Cubs employees while there. Ricardo Medina, who’s worked with the Cubs since 1999 and was recently named an assistant coach for A-ball South Bend, is Amaya’s manager in Panama (the team is located in Los Santos, a Panamanian province). Meanwhile, Cirilo Cumberbatch, who played five professional seasons in the Cleveland Indians organization, is now a scout for the Cubs and an assistant to Medina at Los Santos. Medina tells TVMAX-9 that the plan is to play Amaya three times per week, splitting his time between catcher, first base, and designated hitter.
Prior to signing with the Cubs, Amaya was profiled in a showcase video where both he and his father Maximiliano speak about his upbringing. The following is the translated transcription of the video, which can be found here.
On how Amaya got into baseball:
Amaya: I don’t like baseball. I love baseball. It’s my passion. It’s my reason for living. Around age five or six, seeing my brother play baseball motivated me to follow his footsteps.
Maximilio, Amaya’s father: He would see his brother play in little league and I feel that motivated him greatly to play baseball. Baseball requires feeling. It requires living the game. That goes accompanied with much humility and great responsibility. What better way for me to feel proud of him than to see him grow playing a game that gives him more responsibility in his life?
On Amaya’s position:
Amaya: I never thought I would be a catcher. I was told by my first instructors, “Well Miguel, you’re going to be our catcher.” From that moment on, I felt the passion that led me to sticking with that position.
Maximilio: I was amazed the first time I saw [my son] behind the plate. When I looked at him making those plays, I just said “Wow, where has he been hiding this? I’ve certainly never seen it. I definitely hadn’t discovered it.”
On Amaya’s dreams:
Amaya: My dreams are to be a great ballplayer and reach the major leagues. For that reason, I am working hard. I want to accomplish my dream. To be a Santiño means to be a symbol of respect.
Maximilio: I tell [Miguel], think of your province. Think of your fans. Give your all and your best. Always keep faith high and something will happen.
Lead photo courtesy Allan Henry—USA Today Sports.