This Chicago Cubs Prospect is the best defender in the minors, but is his bat enough?

The rumors of Pete Crow-Armstrong's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

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The Spring Breakout Game later this week is going to be a lot of fun. The Chicago Cubs will be playing their cross-town rivals, the Chicago White Sox, and according to MLB Pipeline they’ll have the player with the defensive tools across all Spring Breakout Games holding down center field.

We know Pete Crow-Armstrong is a monster on defense. There are people that believe that if he were to have made the Opening Day roster as the everyday center fielder he could have won the Gold Glove as a rookie.

That being said, the piece we all need to see is whether or not the bat can deal with Major League pitching, and to this point, he’s been unable to prove that. 

Struggles at the highest level

Last season, he made his Major League debut, and in 19 plate appearances across 13 games, he could not record a hit and struck out seven times. He tried to make up for it on the basepaths but may have been a little overzealous as he had a 50% success rate going 2/4, and his struggles on offense led to some uncharacteristically poor plays in the field.

This year in Spring Training, he logged 25 at-bats in 11 games and hit .160/.222/.280. He did go 3/3 on his stolen base attempts, and of his four hits, three were doubles, so when he was making contact, it was hard contact.

It’s straightforward to look at the struggles listed above and compare him to a prospect-mashing like Owen Caissie and wonder if PCA is (or can be) the superstar we all want him to be. 

To that, I say look at his history.

Struggles quickly turn into successes

In June 2022, he was promoted from Low-A Myrtle Beach to High-A South Bend in June. He hit .220/.230/.458 in his first month at that level, which is objectively not good enough to be widely considered the top prospect in the system. However, in July, he hit .274/.312/.562, and in August, he was a scorching .356/.417/.535.

In 2023, he started the year at Double-A Tennessee for the first time in his career, and in May, he struggled a bit, hitting .247/.322/.416. However, after learning the level, he mashed in June to the tune of .292/.406/.528, followed by an even better July, where he went .307/.391/.640.

Do not forget that last year was the first time he took an at-bat above High-A and the Cubs called him up to the majors.

He, like everyone else in the world at every job they do, has a learning curve that he has to overcome.

Luckily, the Cubs have the luxury of letting him mash in Triple-A Iowa before giving him another shot in the majors. You should expect some growing pains but do not underestimate Pete Crow-Armstrong’s ability to come back with a vengeance.

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