The Cubs’ catching plans for 2022 took a hit with the news that prospect Miguel Amaya will need Tommy John surgery to repair the throwing elbow that shut him down twice during the 2021 minor-league season.
Amaya, the No. 5-ranked prospect in the system (Baseball America), wasn’t expected to open next season in the majors regardless of health because of all the time he missed the last two years between injuries and the COVID-19 cancelation of the 2020 minor-league season.
But his rehab in recent months was encouraging enough that club officials anticipated a 2022 debut during the Cubs’ transition season — a ’22 season that also represents the final year of club control over All-Star catcher Willson Contreras, pending a possible extension.
In fact, Amaya likely would have had a big-league debut in 2021 with good health, if only because of his status as a member of the 40-man roster and a rash of injuries that led to the Cubs using a franchise-record nine catchers during the season.
Amaya, who played in the 2018 and 2019 All-Star Futures Games, is to undergo surgery after Thanksgiving. His recovering timeline is uncertain.
He missed all but 23 games this season for Double-A Tennessee. He last played on June 3.
His rehab progressed well enough over the following three months that the Cubs by early fall considered a few at-bats in winter ball at least a small possibility.