Cubs Prospect All-Season Team: Pete Crow-Armstrong Makes Statement in Center

Our Cubs Prospect All-Season Team continues with a look at one of the deepest position groups in the system. Pete Crow-Armstrong, Alexander Canario, and Kevin Alcántara all put together fantastic seasons in center field and made the decision very difficult. Ultimately I went with Crow-Armstrong because his elite defense separated him from the pack.

After missing almost the entire 2021 season due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder, Crow-Armstrong had a lot to prove in 2022. The 19th overall pick by the New York Mets in 2020 was only able to play in six games as a professional before the injury and he was viewed as more of a contact hitter. This didn’t dissuade the Cubs from acquiring PCA at the 2021 trade deadline for Javy Báez and Trevor Williams in a move so lopsided in hindsight that it may have prevented the Mets from trading with the Cubs this year.

The lack of track record meant there were a lot of questions about PCA heading into the 2022 season. He was able to answer all of them in a big way, in part due to working hard last winter to build a swing that could do damage.

Over the course of the season, Crow-Armstrong made a huge statement proving that he was not only one of the best prospects in the Cubs system, but all of baseball. As a 20-year-old in his first full professional season, he slashed .312/.376/.520 with a 7.6% walk rate and a 21.7% strikeout rate. His 145 wRC+ was only behind Matt Mervis in the Cubs’ system and he was also among the top three in AVG (.312), OPS (.896), stolen bases (32), runs (89) with a system-high 10 triples.

PCA showed no signs of rust as he started the year in Low-A Myrtle Beach and quickly proved he was too good for the level. In 38 games, he slashed an absurd .354/.443/.557 with a 12% walk rate and 18% K-rate to earn a promotion to High-A South Bend at the end of May.

His first test of the season came when he dealt with a bone bruise on his hand that caused him to miss two weeks in June. He slashed just .220/.230/.458 in 14 games that month before quickly regaining his early-season form. In total at South Bend, Crow-Armstrong slashed .287/.333/.498 with a 4.9% walk rate and a 24% K-rate.

By swatting 16 home runs while slugging .520, some of which was aided by his speed, he proved he was far more than just a pretty glove.

With some tweaks to his plate approach, Crow-Armstrong has the potential to hit 20+ home runs a year. We saw him take a step in the right direction at South Bend by being more aggressive at the plate, and dramatically decreasing his walk rate to 4.9% after it was at 12% with the Pelicans. Part of that was because he was swinging at a lot of early pitches and wasn’t getting into many deep counts.

This is one of the only minor worries I have with PCA, as I would like to see him be more selective at the plate and get into more hitter’s counts where he can do even more damage.

Defensively, he is elite. He combines plus speed with the ability to read balls off the bat to get great jumps and take clean routes. He also has a plus arm, which keeps baserunners honest. Much like at the plate, the one area of improvement I would like to see from Crow-Armstrong in the field is his aggressiveness.

There is no throw he thinks he can’t make, which gets him in trouble sometimes because he may overshoot his cutoff and allow runners to get an extra base. He also tries to throw behind runners who aren’t quite far enough off the bag, risking extra bases on overthrows or poor timing. More experience at higher levels should remedy this, and I’d rather he test his limits at the minor-league level.

The 6-foot-1 lefty is an ultra competitor and plays with a fire and passion that will immediately make him a fan favorite patrolling center at Wrigley Field. A true five-tool player, he has the potential to be a multiple-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner in if everything clicks. Crow-Armstrong will most likely start the 2023 season at Double-A Tennessee and could see some time in Triple-A Iowa if he performs well.

Depending on how things progress from there, he’s got an outside shot at being called up to Chicago late next season.

For more Cubs’ minor league prospect all-season team:

Catcher: Moises Ballesteros
First base: Matt Mervis
Second base: Pedro Ramirez
Third base: Jake Slaughter
Shortstop: Andy Weber
Left field: Darius Hill

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