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2022 Dodgers in review: Jake Amaya

Syndication: The Oklahoman Nathan J. Fish/The Oklahoman / USA TODAY NETWORK

Jake Amaya spent his first year on the 40-man roster advancing to Triple-A in the minors, trying to make his way into the conversation for the Dodgers infield in the near future.

The Dodgers added five prospects to the roster in November 2021, none of whom had played past Double-A at that point. Two of them — Eddys Leonard and Jorbit Vivas — were in High-A and stayed there for all of 2022. Michael Grove spent the most time in the majors, pitching in seven games for the Dodgers, starting six and throwing 29⅓ innings. Outfielder James Outman had a supernova debut in the majors, but only played in four games.

Amaya was the only other one of the group to accrue service time in 2022, but only due to a paper move on the final day of the regular season. On October 5, the Dodgers called up Amaya — whose Triple-A season was over — to place him on the 60-day injured list to make room for adding pitcher Beau Burrows. This paved the way for a potential Burrows DFA had the Dodgers needed to add someone from the 60-day IL (like Victor González, for instance) for later in the playoffs, though that plan was deemed moot by San Diego in the NLDS.

While Amaya is already technically a major leaguer with his one day of service time, he has a chance to make it count next season, if he just keeps plugging along like he did in 2022.

Amaya’s calling card is his play at shortstop. Baseball America earlier in the season said, “Amaya is a gifted defensive shortstop with elite instincts for the position. He is always in the right place, secures every ball with his soft, reliable hands and makes every throw with his plus, accurate arm.”

While being on the 40-man roster ostensibly made Amaya only one phone call away from the majors, being anywhere but the top of the Dodgers’ shortstop in 2022 was akin to Maytag Repairman status. Trea Turner started 160 of 162 games and played 95.5 percent of the innings at shortstop for the Dodgers, so a need really never arose that Amaya could properly fill in the majors.

Amaya was promoted from Tulsa to Oklahoma City on June 13, and ended up playing more games in Triple-A (84) than he did in Double-A (49). Offensively it was a relative struggle for the shortstop, who hit .259/.268/.381 with 10 doubles and eight home runs in the offense-friendly Pacific Coast League. His 94 wRC+ was below average, but there were still signs of progress.

For one, Amaya’s plate discipline was solid, walking at a 14-percent clip in Triple-A. His 81 walks on the season were fourth-most in the Dodgers minors.

Amaya’s 23.6-percent strikeout rate with Oklahoma City was a career high, and slightly above the PCL average of 23 percent. But looking at Amaya’s time in Double-A might offer a clue as to how he might get better in 2023.

Jake Amaya in Double-A Tulsa

Year PA XBH BB rate K rate BA/OBP/SLG ISO wRC+
Year PA XBH BB rate K rate BA/OBP/SLG ISO wRC+
2021 476 28 10.9% 21.6% .216/.303/.343 .127 75
2022 216 22 14.8% 13.4% .264/.370/.500 .236 121
Sources: Baseball Reference & FanGraphs

In a return trip to Tulsa to start 2022, Amaya sharply cut down his strikeouts and increased his power, which led to a promotion to the next level. Prospect development isn’t always linear, so it’s not necessarily that Amaya will follow that path in Triple-A. But given his strong plate discipline and good defense at shortstop, Amaya has a strong base of skills on which to build going forward.

2022 particulars

Age: 23

Stats: .261/.369/.427, 104 wRC+, 20 doubles, 17 HR in Double-A and Triple-A

Salary: roughly $61,046 ($3,846 for his one-day share of the major league minimum salary for October 5; plus $57,200, the minimum salary for minor leaguers on their first 40-man roster)

Game of the year

Amaya had the best game of his career so far on April 23 for Tulsa on the road in Springfield. He hit a two-run double in the first inning, a solo home run in the fourth, an RBI double in the fifth, and a two-run homer in the sixth. He added to those four run-scoring hits with another single in the ninth.

In all, Amaya was 5-for-5 with two home runs, two doubles, six RBI, and three runs scored. He set or tied career bests in hits, home runs, extra-base hits, RBI, and runs scored.

Roster status

Amaya has one day of major league service time, and has two option years remaining, having used one in 2022.