Cubs Injury Notes: Canario, Davis, Amaya

Cubs outfield prospect Alexander Canario suffered a badly fractured ankle and a dislocated shoulder during a Dominican Winter League game on Thursday, according to multiple sources (including reporter Arturo Bisono).  While trying to beat out a grounder, Canario awkwardly stepped on the bag and then fell to the ground in obvious pain.

It would seem like Canario will face a substantial amount of recovery time, though no timeline has yet been announced by the Cubs.  This is the second notable shoulder injury of Canario’s short career, as he also had surgery to fix a torn labrum in November 2020.  Between the canceled 2020 minor league season and then the recovery from his surgery, it isn’t surprising that Canario had modest numbers in 2021, playing with both the Giants’ A-ball affiliate and the Cubs’ high-A team.

Acquired from San Francisco as part of the Kris Bryant trade in 2021, the 22-year-old Canario hit .252/.343/.556 with 37 homers and 23 steals (from 26 chances) over 534 combined plate appearances at the high-A, Double-A, and Triple-A levels last season.  This excellent performance sent Canario within the top 10 of Chicago prospects, as per both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline.  It also put Canario on the radar of several rival teams scouting the Cubs as possible trade partners, according to The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma, but Canario’s status as a trade chip or as a possible difference-maker in Wrigleyville is now on hold until his recovers.

Brennen Davis has also been sidelined by injury, as lower back tightness limited him to just five games in the Arizona Fall League before the Cubs shut him down.  Sharma writes that the club hadn’t determined the nature of this new injury, but it doesn’t seem similar to the problem (a vascular formation on his sciatic nerve) that required Davis to undergo back surgery in June.

A consensus pick as Chicago’s second-best prospect and a top-50 prospect in all of baseball, Davis has hit .255/.363/.444 over 906 professional PA since being selected in the second round of the 2018 draft.  Multiple injuries have slowed Davis’ progress, as beyond his back surgery, Davis has also had to recover from a concussion and broken nose (after being hit by a pitch during Spring Training), as well as finger injuries in 2019.

Despite all these setbacks, Davis was still moving up the minor league ladder and playing well, before his back problems led to a down year in 2022 and a probable promotion to the majors.  Sharma notes that the Cubs are still expected to place Davis on the 40-man roster this winter, since even with the back concerns, he would surely be taken in the Rule 5 Draft.

Miguel Amaya was placed on the 40-man back in November 2019, yet the catching prospect has barely played in the following three years.  Beyond the canceled 2020 minors season, Amaya was limited to 23 games in 2021 and then 40 games in 2022 due largely to a forearm strain that resulted in Tommy John surgery.  Once Amaya made it back this season, he was limited to DH duty, and then his path back to catching was halted when he suffered a Lisfranc fracture in his left foot in mid-September.

My offseason focus is to be the best version of me for 2023, and whatever happens, happens,” Amaya told Mark Gonzales of The Chicago Sun-Times.  “I just want to be healthy to show everyone who Miguel Amaya is and just have fun and play the baseball I know.”

Amaya has been limited to shoulder and elbow exercises while his foot heals, and while he hasn’t much recent contact with Willson Contreras, Amaya also cited the veteran catcher as an important mentor during his development.  In theory, Amaya might’ve already established himself as Contreras’ replacement if healthy, as Contreras is headed into free agency this winter.  A top-100 prospect prior to his Tommy John surgery, Amaya might be a factor for the big league roster later in 2023, though he has only 51 games at the Double-A level and nothing in Triple-A.

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