By: Andy Jachim
In a season that has had a multitude of ups and downs, the Cubs have been able to feature some of their brightest pieces for the future.
Among these pieces has been the recent call-up of the club’s number one overall prospect, Pete Crow-Armstrong. The sensation that is PCA has soared up the minor league ranks since being acquired for Javier Baez and Trevor Williams from the Mets in August of 2021. Since he was recovering from a shoulder injury, PCA didn’t make his debut in the Cubs system until 2022.
In Myrtle Beach and South Bend, Armstrong hit .312, got on base at a .520 clip, and nearly possessed an OPS of .900 (.896). Not to mention, his defense took center stage last season. Armstrong was firmly put on the map as an outfield prospect with an 80 defensive grade and one of the best in all of Minor League Baseball.
The one thing that left Cubs fans in question following his rather impressive 2022 campaign was overall power in the batter’s box. Despite clubbing 16 homers and driving in 61 runs, many scouts believed PCA needed to find more consistency in his slugging efforts.
That’s exactly what the centerfielder has done up to this point in 2023. In 107 games in Tennessee and Iowa, Armstrong was able to notch the 20-homer mark while driving in 82 runs. Along with his numbers at the dish, PCA’s defense continued to steal the show across all social media platforms in baseball.
When it came to his promotion, we weren’t supposed to see Armstrong until next season. According to the MLB pipeline, his ETA was set for 2024 for quite some time. However, after his high level of play, Cubs fans everywhere were ready to see the phenom as soon as possible.
Before the team made the trek to Denver a of couple weeks ago, Jed Hoyer and company decided it was time to give Armstrong a shot to be with the big club for the remainder of the season.
Fast forward nearly three weeks later and although he hasn’t been given a surplus of at-bats since his arrival, PCA has yet to record his first career big-league knock. On the other hand, his glove has been excellent, as expected. In his first major league start, Armstrong made two web gems that had everyone slack-jawed.
His defense has been there, as has his speed, but what’s wrong with the bat on the young outfielder? Keep in mind, he’s had just 14 at-bats and 11 plate appearances. There’s no question that PCA has looked rather uncomfortable in the box at times, but that’s justifiable in a 21-year-old.
My advice to Cubs fans everywhere when it comes to Armstrong: just be patient. I know it’s difficult, but you have to remember we weren’t even supposed to see him with the big club this season. Anything we get from him down the stretch is gravy at the end of the day.
With a full offseason to prepare for the likelihood of being the Cubs opening-day Center Fielder in 2024, PCA will look much different come Spring Training. Armstrong didn’t just stumble upon hitting 20 homers and 26 doubles at two different levels in the minors this season. This kid can play and it’s only a matter of time before he is a franchise cornerstone in Chicago for years to come.