For however slow progress has been at the big league level this season, the Chicago Cubs minor league revamp has gone about as well as you could’ve hoped. From a 10,000 foot view, you could correctly say that some of the high-profile hitters started off slowly, but most of them have it turned it around lately. And the pitching has been great almost from the jump.
To that end, I am especially excited to see that Pete Crow-Armstrong was named the Cubs Minor League Player of the Month for April, right next to Porter Hodge on the pitching side.
It’s difficult to say which of the Cubs core-player trades is going to wind up being the most impactful so soon after they were made, but getting the Mets’ 2020 first-rounder for Javy Báez and Trevor Williams is an early front-runner. Crow-Armstrong was available to the Cubs pretty much ONLY because he was hurt and the Mets were desperate to make something out of last season. And even despite that injury, his combination of elite center field defense and speed had him as one of the borderline top-100 prospects all offseason. But after this fantastic offensive start to his 2022 campaign, he’s going to rocket up mid-season lists.
At barely 20-years-old, PCA is slashing .382/.481/.603 (202 wRC+) at A-ball this season … again, as an ELITE defensive center fielder. He’s got a 12.3% walk rate and a 14.8% strikeout rate with a .221 ISO. Just a bonkers start. Truly. He’s probably the Cubs No. 2 prospect at the moment, behind only Brennen Davis, who gets a bump for being so close to MLB.
Meanwhile, his teammate, Porter Hodge (Cubs 13th round pick in 2019), comes in as the Cubs Minor League pitcher of the month after making four starts to the tune of a 1.56 ERA. He also struck out 21 batters, against six walks, and allowed only 10 hits (.161 AVG against) in 17.1 IP.
Hodge was an honorable mention on the BN Cubs Top Prospects list:
Porter Hodge, P, 21, Myrtle Beach. There’s some stuff to like: a big 6-foot-4 frame with a low release height, a really sweep-y slider he has a lot of comfort with, solid overall control and a 1.35 ERA in his final five appearances. For now the fastball quality (topping in low 90s, cut movement that got him into occasional trouble) isn’t enough to justify a higher ranking, but given the age and the frame, there’s reason to hope it will get there.
It’s always fun when the high-profile guys (like PCA) win these awards. But it’s equally exciting to see less heralded players step up and put themselves on the map. Not every big league contributor is a clear-cut top prospect.
Here’s the Cubs statement:
Cubs name OF Pete Crow-Armstrong and RHP Porter Hodge their Minor League player and pitcher of the month for April. More ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/4VmufWoYkW
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 4, 2022