Cubs Prospect Profile: Pete Crow-Armstrong
Benny Sieu - USA Today Sports

Cubs Prospect Profile: Pete Crow-Armstrong


by - Senior Writer -

For all of the criticism that Jed Hoyer endured early on during his tenure, and most of it was worthy, he deserves a ton of credit for rebuilding this organization in such a short time. Whether you were for or against some of his moves, Hoyer made it a point to not only sell off assets that didn't fit in Chicago anymore, but to do that by selling them when their stock was high.

You saw that with Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, but no trade could have been better for the Cubs than sending Javier Baez and Trevor Williams to the New York Mets. Not only did they send a struggling pitcher and a hitter who has turned into a nightmare away, but they managed to land one of the best prospects in baseball as Pete Crow-Armstrong is not only the top prospect in the Cubs system, but close to a top 10 overall prospect.

You usually never want to say anyone is untouchable, as everyone can be had for the right price. Regarding PCA or even Cade Horton, who was discussed earlier, those may be the two guys as close to untouchable as you can get. PCA entered the 2019 summer as the top high school prospect, only to see his stock fall before getting drafted in 2020. Still, PCA was a first-round pick, getting taken at No. 19 overall and signed for more than three million dollars.

Seen as a potential building block for the Mets, the California Kid played in just six games for the Mets farm system in 2021 before tearing his Labrum and missing the rest of the 2021 season. Two months later, the Mets traded him to the Cubs, and although he didn't see any action until the 2022 season, you got a sense that the Cubs had an exceptional talent they couldn't wait to unleash, as he has widely been regarded as one of the best defensive players in quite some time.

Although he tore his Labrum in 2021, that didn't seem to stop PCA as he made his debut with the Pelicans in 2022 before ending the season with South Bend and combining to hit .312 across 101 games with 16 homers, 61 RBIs, and 32 stolen bases all while playing Platinum Defense in CF. While that season was great, 2023 was even better, and it makes the Mets sick for making this trade in the first place.

As expected, PCA began the season in AA, and given how tough that league can be, many expected him to struggle. Instead, he hits .289 with 14 home runs, 60 RBIs, and an impressive 27-29 in stolen base attempts, earning a call-up to AAA Iowa in August. Once there, PCA struggled to get his feet wet, but once he figured things out, he took off hitting .271 with Iowa to go with six homers and, 22 RBIs, and 10 additional steals. Given the situation the Cubs were in late in the season, Hoyer promoted PCA to the show for the stretch run, but he only earned two starts and went hitless in 14 at-bats in what was a brief cup of tea.

PCA did take home the Gold Glove in the minors this season, which is a consolation prize, but 2024 will be an exciting season for PCA to see what he can do to improve on what he needs to improve on and to see if he earns a spot on the opening day roster or goes back to AAA for more seasoning.

Crow-Armstrong uses his quick left-handed stroke and a disciplined mindset to lace line drives to all fields. However, he is very similar to Baez when it comes to not walking much and striking out far too much. That is something to watch for as his career goes on, as he will need to take more walks and cut down on the strikeouts to reach his full potential. However, his ability to put balls in play makes up for the lack of walks, which is why many feel he can be the leadoff hitter in the future.

Chicago helped him incorporate some swing changes designed to allow him to pull and lift balls more efficiently, and he responded last year by making increased hard contact and showing at least 20-homer potential. He became noticeably more aggressive, striking out nearly five times as much as he walked, which plagued him during his brief stint in the MLB this season.

While his offense is far from polished, the defensive ability of PCA is what sets him apart, as he will be an annual gold glove candidate every season. Scouts give top-of-the-scale grades to his center-field skills, as he exhibits tremendous range from gap to gap with his combination of plus speed and precision reads and routes, and he completes the package with solid arm strength.

Throw in his elite speed, which makes him a threat on the bases, and PCA is the definition of a leadoff hitter. The Cubs know he is special, the MLB knows he is special, and now it is time for PCA to realize he is special. This could be the best prospect the Cubs have had since Bryant, and he could be the final piece to a World Series roster if used and developed correctly.

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