This Chicago Cubs top prospect likely will begin the season in Triple-A

Cody Bellinger's return to the Chicago Cubs alters the timeline for the team's top outfield prospect.

Chicago Cubs Workout
Chicago Cubs Workout / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The messaging originating from Chicago Cubs Spring Training was that the team was fully prepared to enter the season with a dependency on top prospects Pete Crow-Armstrong and Michael Busch.

It was a Cubs' Spring Training that started without Cody Bellinger on the roster.

Bellinger's new contract with the Cubs is set to be official within the next day or two and with his return to camp, it goes without saying that there will be prospects impacted.

Specifically, Crow-Armstrong's role on the Opening Day roster now comes into question. The Cubs are still pinning a lot on Crow-Armstrong's shoulders in terms of the long-term future of the Major League team but Bellinger's presence on the roster allows for the Cubs' top prospect to be eased into being a regular at the Major League level.

That is why it should be a surprise to no one that the Cubs are moving forward with the plan of having Crow-Armstrong begin the season at Triple-A Iowa. Short of Crow-Armstrong tearing the cover off the ball with his offensive approach during Spring Training, the 21-year-old outfielder will not be a member of the Opening Day roster.

Pete Crow-Armstrong is now in a better position to succeed after Cody Bellinger's return to the Chicago Cubs.

That should not serve as an indictment of the Cubs' top prospect. At 21 years of age, the Cubs still have time before there is a legitimate need to depend on Crow-Armstrong's development at the Major League level. Any scenario that included the Cubs opening the season with Crow-Armstrong as their Opening Day center fielder would push the team toward a rebuilding season instead of one where there should be an expectation of making the post-season.

Crow-Armstrong had 19 plate appearances at the Major League level last September and 158 plate appearances at Triple-A Iowa before that. The Cubs' front office prefers for a prospect to dominate at each level before becoming a regular at the Major League level and Bellinger's return allows for Crow-Armstrong to get some much-needed seasoning before being a product ready for meaningful plate appearances.

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