When will Cubs prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong make his MLB debut?

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With spring training getting ready to wrap up, we can't help but start thinking about the future for the Chicago Cubs. We may have some waiting to do yet when it comes to top prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong, but he certainly turned plenty of heads in Cactus League play this month.

Perhaps the most intriguing prospect the Cubs have had since Kris Bryant, Crow-Armstrong's combination of a high floor and ceiling have earned him a spot in MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospect list, at #30. But how soon can we expect to see him patrolling the outfield at Wrigley Field?

Cubs will take their time with Pete Crow-Armstrong's development

Last season, PCA slashed .312/376/.520 with 16 home runs, 61 RBI and 32 stolen bases in just 111 games. His accolades helped the South Bend Cubs, the organization's High-A affiliate, capture their second Midwest League Championship since 2019. By now, we’re well aware of his elite defense, which was on full display this spring. In 2022, defensively, he registered 194 putouts, 6 assists and 6 errors, good for a 0.97 fielding percentage - and has notched several 80-grade assessments from evaluators.

The question moving forward now is whether or not PCA is ready for the jump straight to Double-A Tennessee to begin the 2023 campaign. Re-analyizing his statistics, things still are good on paper, but there are certain areas he will need to improve on to hasten the process of a call-up to the higher levels. 

For example, before his promotion to South Bend, Crow-Armstrong slashed an incredible .354/.443/.557 with a 172 wRC+ at the team’s A level affiliate, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Once he moved to High-A, he still slashed .287/.333/.498. You'll note a dramatic drop across his entire slash line, especially his on-base percentage. He walked 22 times at Myrtle Beach in 38 games, while only recording 14 walks in High-A in 63 games. His strikeout rate also jumped from 18 to 24 percent between the respective levels. 

Before the Cubs sent him to minor league camp, the young outfielder batted just .125 in 16 ABs, but did manage to swipe four bags in the process, which is no surprise given how much of a threat he is on the basepaths. If he does go straight to Tennessee, there will be a further adjustment period, but one that he can handle, possessing the raw talent he owns.

Next. Hayden Wesneski emerging as clear choice for fifth starter spot . dark

If everything goes perfectly, we can expect PCA to make it to Triple-A Iowa by late summer 2023. Envisioning a scenario where he starts the 2024 season in Iowa, similar to the Matt Mervis situation, isn’t unrealistic. At still just 20 years old, the Cubs are in no rush to pressure him forward - I'm guessing we'll see Crow-Armstrong at Wrigley at some point in 2024.