The Chicago Cubs' future is shining bright early in Spring Training

Pete Crow-Armstrong, Matt Shaw, and James Triantos helped the Chicago Cubs salvage their most recent game against the Cincinnati Reds, giving fans a glimpse at the team's future.

Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers
Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers / John Fisher/GettyImages

The future is now for the Chicago Cubs at Spring Training. Five games into camp in Mesa, Arizona, several of the team's top prospects already show why they could make up the next great core. Tuesday's game against the Cincinnati Reds, in particular, gave Pete Crow-Armstrong, Matt Shaw, and James Triantos a chance to shine and save the team from what would've been their third Cactus League loss in a row.

Through six innings, the Cubs regulars were being no-hit by Cincy's pitching staff led by starter Frankie Montas. Crow-Armstrong broke up the bid in the seventh, but the real action came in the eighth when Triantos went to the plate with the bases juiced and scored the Cubs' first runs in nearly three games. Then, Shaw ripped a triple that brought the game within two. After some work with Brennen Davis, Bryce Windham, Luis Vazquez, and Christian Franklin, PCA got to play hero with a knock that tied the game in the ninth.

Thanks to the work of the team's top prospects, a 6-0 drubbing ended as a 6-6 tie. Spring Training means little in the grand scheme of things about a player's long-term value, but it's enough to get the mind racing about what could be possible within the next few years. In Shaw and Crow-Armstrong's case, that impact will likely be felt in the majors this year.

After (finally) bringing back Cody Bellinger, the Cubs are in no rush to start PCA in the majors. Barring an otherworldly performance in spring that forces their hand, the goal seems to be to give him runway in Triple-A to continue improving his bat. His offseason work with Dustin Kelly appears to be making a difference so far, with three doubles in seven at-bats and an adjusted batting stance. That's way too early to make any declarations, but he's passed the eye test.

The bat would be the last piece needed to make PCA a long-term star for the team, given his 80-grade glove and aggressiveness on the bases. Moreover, it's what the Cubs are hoping for given the opt-outs in Bellinger's contract. As exciting as it is to have him back for more than one year, the best-case scenario for the team this year might be for both him and Crow-Armstrong to ball out, leading Belli to opt out and PCA to take over in center with far more certainty.

Shaw's spring performance, meanwhile, has shown off the blistering power he has in his bat. Thus far, he's hit at every level of the minors with a .357/.400 /.618 slash line last year across multiple Cubs affiliates. He's likely to continue in Double-A this year, but if he continues to mash in camp, that rise will only accelerate until he's in the majors later this year. Christopher Morel is poised to man third base this year, but that won't stop Shaw from carving himself a spot on the roster if he keeps hitting.

Of the trio, Triantos is the lowest rated - #73 by MLB Pipeline compared to #54 for Shaw and #16 for PCA - but still boasts great potential as a high-contact bat and is eyed by MLB experts as the team's next big breakout prospect. Spring Training marks our first look at him after he took home Arizona Fall League Offensive Player of the Year honors with a .417/.495/.679 slash line that proved he has a bit more power. There's still a lot of room for him to grow as a hitter in the minors and plenty of time, as he's not expected to reach the big leagues until after Shaw and PCA.

The top Cubs prospects are close to being big league heroes

This is all without mentioning other top prospects like Owen Caissie and Kevin Alcantara who are looking for moments to shine in camp or formerly lauded guys like Davis who are showing out. Games like Tuesday's are all the more reason to pay attention to the Cubs this spring. This future where Shaw, PCA, and Triantos play late-inning heroes for the big league team is finally within reach and their performance now could be a harbinger of things to come as soon as this year.

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