Prospect Survey Tabs Pete Crow-Armstrong as the Best Defensive Prospect in All of the Minors

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Prospect Survey Tabs Pete Crow-Armstrong as the Best Defensive Prospect in All of the Minors

Chicago Cubs

You won’t be surprised to learn that, when MLB Pipeline was putting together its prospect pre-season All-Defense team, Pete Crow-Armstrong is included in the outfield trio. He was included last year, too, and that was before his status elevated in 2022. The Chicago Cubs top prospect was a breakout star at the plate in 2022, and also netted a Minor League Gold Glove in the process.

But you might be surprised – and excited – to learn that PCA showed up on another defensive list this week, with an even higher plaudit.

The Pipeline crew has been surveying front offices about all kinds of prospect-related topics, and among those items was this question: “Who is the best defensive prospect?”

At the top of the list, with 14% of the vote: Pete Crow-Armstrong.

To be sure, that’s not the same as, like, getting more than half the vote, but that’s a pretty huge chunk of the vote when you’re talking about EVERY prospect in professional baseball.

Also, I feel like an outfielder getting more votes than anyone else really says something (the list is overwhelmingly full of shortstops, though Druw Jones shows up just behind Crow-Armstrong on the list). It’s not just that PCA is an excellent defensive outfield prospect, it’s that his defense out there is seen by many as TRULY special. Many of the highlights have had that look – where it’s not just a guy making good, diving catches, but it’s a guy whose read off the bat is so quick and precise that he is making it to balls that he has no business reaching. But I think this is probably something that we’ll see even better when we’re watching him play every day. You know, the plays that don’t wind up looking like a highlight because he tracks the ball so perfectly that it just looks like a routine catch.

Having some of the best speed in the minors doesn’t hurt, either (PCA showed up 7th on the list of prospects with the most speed).

Admittedly, most of the focus in 2023 will be on Pete Crow-Armstrong’s bat, as he tries to master Double-A while carrying forward his power breakout and improving his contact rate. The bat is what will separate him from being a useful big leaguer to a perennial All-Star type.

But the glove, if it is as elite as these kinds of surveys suggest, means he could wind up an above-average regular in the big leagues even if the bat never quite gets over the hump. Obviously you don’t root for that outcome, and I know some Cubs fans feel burned by that concept (because of Albert Almora Jr. (but come on, yes, he was considered an excellent defensive center fielder, but not quite “the best defender in the minors”-level)). But it’s a floor that I think means you can project PCA as a big league contributor for your future planning purposes if you’re the Cubs, in a way that’s pretty hard to project when talking about any prospect who hasn’t played above High-A.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.