Anyone who's ready to write off Cubs outfield prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong based on a 19 plate appearance sample size isn't worth listening to. Crow-Armstrong isn't panicking. The organization isn't panicking, either.
In fact, Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer was reminded of a conversation he had with Anthony Rizzo more than a decade ago in San Diego after sitting down with the young outfielder at the end of the 2023 campaign.
"I told him this: I actually believe that will end up being the single-best thing that could happen to him, in a lot of ways."- Jed Hoyer, via MLB.com
At the time, Hoyer was the Padres' GM - and Rizzo had really struggled in his first taste of MLB action, batting just .141/.281/.242 - good for a 51 OPS+. Clearly, his performance didn't sour the first baseman in Hoyer's mind, because he and Theo Epstein immediately acquired him from San Diego upon making the jump to Chicago prior to the 2012 campaign.
From there, Rizzo showcased a totally revamped swing - and one that was continually adjusting throughout his 10-year run with the Cubs. In the end, he became the face of the franchise, a three-time All-Star, a Silver Slugger winner, a three-time Gold Glover and a World Series champion, racking up more than 1,300 base hits and posting a .372 OBP with Chicago.
Cubs hoping Pete Crow-Armstrong can learn in the same way Anthony Rizzo did as a young hitter
The message, again, was the same for Crow-Armstrong after he struggled following a late season call-up. Those struggles, paired with the team's reported continued interest in a reunion with Cody Bellinger, have pushed PCA to the backburner in some folks' minds. But make no mistake: he could very well wind up being the Cubs' Opening Day center fielder - with or without Bellinger in the lineup.
"He’s such an exceptional defender. He’s going to prevent so many runs defensively. I think as he refines his baserunning and stealing bases, he’s going to have such an impact on the bases. He is a good hitter. Certainly, he probably realized he has to make certain changes offensively ... And I think realizing that now is really a key. This is the big leagues. This is the best league there is. And the pitching is a lot better than it is in the Minors. I think seeing that up close and personal [helps]."- Jed Hoyer, via MLB.com
We're now less than 2 months from Cubs players reporting to Mesa - and Crow-Armstrong's quest to win the starting center field job beginning. The glove will play, that much is known. Now, where he opens the 2024 campaign depends entirely on the adjustments he's making this offseason and how they translate to the box when Cactus League action kicks off.
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