Pete Crow-Armstrong is best known for his defense, which you can see on spectacular display if you keep reading, but it’s his bat that may determine whether he’s able to break out this season. Blessed with 60-grade speed and a 70-grade glove, the almost-20-year-old from Southern California grew up a Cubs fan and now gets to develop his skills as part of their system.
Rather than focus on his primary meal ticket, however, Crow-Armstrong has put in a great deal of work this offseason honing his swing. As Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney reported for The Athletic, the Cubs noticed a few mechanical inefficiencies that limited the lefty batter’s ability to make consistent contact. There was also the matter of rehabbing a season-ending shoulder surgery, which meant spending a lot of time in the cage tracking pitches to develop an awareness for the zone.
Good to see Pete Crow-Armstrong back in the cages pic.twitter.com/zFADu2VFXd
— RushingBaseball (@RushingBaseball) November 16, 2021
Evaluators are divided on Crow-Armstrong’s offensive potential, with some grading both his hit tool and in-game power out at a lowly 20. Those seem awfully pessimistic, though we’re probably not talking about a young man who’s going to mash 30 homers a season. Nor should he attempt to force the power, something we saw with Albert Almora Jr. during his time with the Cubs.
That’s not a direct comp by any means because they’re very different players, but Almora was forever tweaking his swing and even bulked up at one point in an attempt to increase his pop. The only problem was that a bump in his home run total came at the cost of a step or two in the outfield, not ideal when your game is predicated on getting great reads and jumps to counter below-average speed.
Don’t expect to see the same issues with Crow-Armstrong, who’s got speed to burn and appears to be very comfortable when it comes to his growth as a hitter.
“I know I have it in me,” Crow-Armstrong told The Athletic. “I can hit it out of any park. You’re never going to get the perfect swing, but it’s about trying to get as close to perfection as you can. Those little steps that help you get to the best swing you can get help you really clean it up, and I’ve made a lot of those moves.
“I think I’m in a much better position to — not necessarily hit for power, because that’s not really my goal, but to do damage. And that comes in a lot of different ways.”
Gap power, baby, that’s the name of the game. Hard line drives to the power alleys that will go for doubles all day and might clear the basket if things go well. Then get out in the field and steal those hits from opponents by utilizing his highly-tuned kinesthetic feel to magically propel his body over walls. If you’re not familiar with that particular term, it’s synonymous with proprioception.
— John Antonoff (@baseballinfocus) February 25, 2022
Shit, that’s two terms you won’t hear in most households. Put more simply, kinesthetic feel or proprioception are just big words that mean having an awareness of the movement and direction of one’s body. For Crow-Armstrong, that could mean taking a more efficient route to a fly ball in the gap or, as seen above, knowing when and where to leap at the fence to rob a homer.
Fans in Myrtle Beach may be seeing a lot of that this summer, as PCA figures to be part of a stacked lineup featuring several top Cubs prospects. Between the speed, defense, and power, this is an affiliate you’re going to want to visit early if you have the chance. The Pelicans are going to be very fun to watch, I’m just not sure how long the Cubs will keep this squad together if some of these players live up to the hype.
My projected opening day lineup for Low-A Myrtle Beach (@Pelicanbaseball)
1. Pete Crow-Armstrong (CF)
2. James Triantos (2B)
3. Owen Caissie (DH)
4. Felix Stevens (1B)
5. Kevin Alcantara (RF)
6. Ed Howard (SS)
7. Reggie Preciado (3B)
8. Ethan Hearn (C)
9. Ismael Mena (LF)
— Greg Huss (@OutOfTheVines) February 25, 2022
Good thing Marquee is carrying minor league games now, huh?