Cubs prospect notebook: Miguel Amaya progressing, Alexanger Canario raking

Cubs vice president of player development Jared Banner also had high praise for Pete Crow-Armstrong.

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Cubs catching prospect Miguel Amaya is back hitting in Double-A Tennessee after undergoing Tommy John surgery over the winter.

Cubs catching prospect Miguel Amaya is back hitting in Double-A Tennessee after undergoing Tommy John surgery over the winter.

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SAN FRANCISCO — Assuming the Cubs trade Willson Contreras before the deadline Aug. 2, the next question becomes which catchers will fill in behind backups Yan Gomes and PJ Higgins.

“Quality catching’s hard to find throughout the game,” vice president of player development Jared Banner said. “So anytime you have a catching prospect, it’s always great.”

The organization has been getting good news on that front as of late. Top catching prospect Miguel Amaya, who underwent Tommy John surgery over the winter, joined Double-A Tennessee last week after a rehab assignment in Arizona.

Amaya hasn’t begun catching yet — that will be a slower process — but he has transitioned smoothly back into hitting. He recorded seven hits in his first 18 at-bats back in Double-A, including two doubles and a home run.

“You don’t want to miss too much time with a young player,” Banner said, “so to get him back out there — and he hit the ground running this weekend — excited to see that.”

It’s “definitely possible,” according to Banner, that Amaya could see action in the Arizona Fall League this year.

‘The player that we envisioned’

The Cubs are in position to further bolster their farm system at the trade deadline, while doing the opposite to their big-league squad. At the same time, they’re seeing growth from several of last year’s additions.

Outfield prospect Alexander Canario, whom the Cubs acquired with Caleb Kilian for Kris Bryant, has climbed from Single-A South Bend to Double-A Tennessee. His introduction to stiffer competition seems to be going smoothly through 63 games.

“What he’s done over the last month or so is he’s really controlling the zone,” Banner said. “So he’s striking out less, he’s walking more, he’s just making really good swing decisions. And whenever he makes contact, he does a ton of damage. He’s really strong and creates a ton of exit velo.

“So he’s just doing a great job. He’s hot as can be right now, and he’s trending up. It’s not just a hot streak; he’s doing everything better and better each month. And we’re really excited to see that. This is the player that we envisioned when we traded for him.”

In the Smokies’ last series at Chattanooga, Canario went 7-for-11 in three games, recording his 23rd and 24th homers of the year (Single-A and Double-A combined).

Future big-leaguer

Pete Crow-Armstrong, another prospect the Cubs acquired at last year’s deadline, highlighted his strong season with an All-Star Futures Game invitation.

“Really impressive season, seeing him out on a major-league field, it’s something to dream on,” Banner said. “For us, having him speak to the commentators out there, he sounded like a potential big-leaguer down the road, and it’s easier to see it once they’re actually on that major-league field like that. So it was fun to watch.”

Asked if “down the road” could be as soon as the end of next season, Banner didn’t commit to a timeline, but he didn’t rule it out either.

“We don’t put limits on any of our guys,” he said. “We’re not going to rush things either. Ultimately his performance is going to tell us what he’s ready for.”

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