Given that this is his first full professional season, that he only just turned 20 this year, and that he’s only at High-A, it’s an understandable tendency to think of Chicago Cubs outfield prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong as “far away.”
But it’s never been impossible to imagine a scenario where PCA climbs another two levels next season, putting him right on the doorstep of Major League Baseball before the year is up. Heck, it hasn’t been inconceivable that he could REACH Major League Baseball next year if the circumstances were just right.
One thing Crow-Armstrong is given a lot of credit for by those in the organization is his work ethic. The word “creative genius” was used when describing his ability to use his body and execute specific movements while in the box.
That determination and ability to train his body properly led to the needed adjustment. Over his last 25 games, Crow-Armstrong has a 156 wRC+, but most importantly he’s striking out just 16.7 percent of the time while walking at a 6.1 percent rate. The more he handles High-A pitching, the more likely it is that he starts next season at Double-A Tennessee. That would make a 2024 major-league debut very possible. And if all goes well with his development — and the Cubs are competing — it wouldn’t be out of the question to see him at some point next season at Wrigley Field.
That’s a statement right there that comes with some weight behind it. Some back-checking to make sure folks in the organization do think it is at least plausible that PCA could reach the big leagues in 2023. Must have passed that smell test. And it does for me, too.
Basically, if PCA starts the 2023 season at Double-A, if he’s taken yet another step forward and is raking, you could see him bumped to Triple-A rather quickly. From there, if a need pops up in the outfield on the big league team and the Cubs are pushing in the division? Yeah, you could see him come up and contribute right away, especially because he’s already so good defensively in center field.
Now, don’t get me wrong here, and don’t miss the part in The Athletic piece about 2024: that’s probably much more likely than 2023. We’ve certainly seen players reach the big leagues at age 21 or just a season after being in High-A or both, but it’s hardly common or expected. Moreover, it’s not a knock on his ability or potential if PCA spends most of next year at Double-A, and maybe only gets a little taste of Triple-A. That’d be a fine developmental year for a 21-year-old prospect!
On the season, Crow-Armstrong is hitting a robust .319/.382/.539/150 wRC+ between Low-A and High-A, showing far more power than most expected coming into the year, and still managing his stellar defensive work in center field. Dude has his season strikeout rate down to 21.4%, but still has a solid .220 ISO. As in, he’s showing off a good contact-power combo, and he was previously cited as a speed and defense guy, with a line-drive approach. Now he’s all of those things!
He has solidified himself as a top 30 prospect in the game from where I’m sitting, and I don’t think this is a guy we have to assume is years and years and years away from making an impact in the big leagues. Another great offseason of work and a hot start at Double-A, and you just never know.