Folks, the hype surrounding 20-year-old outfield prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong is real. He destroyed the Carolina League to earn a promotion to High-A South Bend and has been holding his own with the bat, using his speed to pick up extra bases. With two homers, three doubles and four(!) triples in 16 games, his at-bats have become appointment viewing.
But that’s all just a very welcome addition to his carrying trait, which is defensive ability that will be enough to get him to the bigs even if his bat doesn’t continue to develop. Crow-Armstrong is shooting up prospect lists all over the place, but Marquee’s Lance Brozdowski was ahead of the trend in ranking the outfielder No. 2 on his preseason top 25.
“I don’t believe there is a more visible elite skill in the organization than Crow-Armstrong’s defense,” Brozdowski wrote. “Anybody who has watched baseball before can observe his movements in the outfield and notice something is different about how much ground he covers and how smooth his actions are.”
When it comes to covering ground in center, I’m not sure I’ve seen anything quite like what PCA did Saturday night in Beloit. And I saw plenty of both Andrew Jones and Jim Edmonds. This is incredible.
CATCH OF THE YEAR‼️
— South Bend Cubs (@SBCubs) July 3, 2022
You may have to click on the images here to get a better perspective, but Crow-Armstrong is playing relatively shallow and is shading the right-handed batter well into right-center. From there, he makes it all the way to the wall in the left-center power alley and slides smoothly to avoid a collision going flat-out. I’m thinking you can count on one hand the number of players who could make this catch, and you might not even need every finger.
According to MLB Pipeline, only eight of 900 ranked prospects have a field tool of 70. Even taking the other outfielders in that group and adding in current MLB players, I just don’t believe this is something you’d see from more than maybe one or two others.
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) July 3, 2022
PCA will almost certainly be at Double-A next year, then it’s just a matter of time before he’s ready for Chicago. Again, it’s just a matter of the bat remaining good enough to allow him to tread water offensively because the glove is more than good enough now.