Crow-Armstrong soaking in first Spring Training with Cubs

February 13th, 2023

MESA, Ariz. -- With the hood of his Cubs sweatshirt pulled up over his cap, Pete Crow-Armstrong provided commentary on the balls ripped by fellow prospects Matt Mervis and Brennen Davis. He rooted on line drives and tried to will fly balls a few extra feet.

"Clobbered!" Crow-Armstrong shouted after one of Davis' blasts during batting practice.

After one of his own hits fell shorter than he expected, Crow-Armstrong came out of the cage, yelled and sent his bat twirling high into the air in faux frustration. He then dropped to the grass and went through a set of push-ups to some laughter from those nearby.

As Spring Training gets set for its official start later this week, a good portion of Chicago's camp roster has already arrived to the team's complex. On Field 2, Crow-Armstrong was among a cast of players who could be part of the Cubs' core in the near future.

MLB Pipeline's No. 1-ranked Cubs prospect, Crow-Armstrong is in camp as a non-roster invitee, giving him a chance to soak in the environment and knowledge available in Major League camp. After his BP session, he made his way to center field on the main practice field, running down deep drives from a few of the North Siders' big league hitters.

"I can't ask for anything much more, really," Crow-Armstrong said. "I get to go play defense with Gold Glovers and I get to go hit with the best of them. So, it's about to be good work for me and for everybody else. I'm just excited."

Crow-Armstrong, who will turn 21 years old in March, is a high-energy personality who is constantly filling the air around him with chatter. When it comes to his time in big league camp this spring, he said he plans on trying to "stay out of people's way," while learning from vets and younger players alike through observation and conversation.

He wants to study how veteran center fielder and Gold Glover Cody Bellinger goes about playing defense. He wants to continue to hone his daily routine, feeling that "sharpening my mindset" will be an important part of this season. Mostly, Crow-Armstrong just wants to head into his season having squeezed as much as possible out of his time in big league camp.

"I want to take every little tidbit of information I can get," Crow-Armstrong said. "I'd be foolish if I wasn't here to learn. I think it'd be a big waste of my time if I didn't use it the right way."

A year ago around this time, Crow-Armstrong was just easing back into a hitting program after working his way back from right shoulder surgery. He was also still learning the ins and outs of the Cubs organization after being acquired in the Javier Báez trade with the Mets at the 2021 Trade Deadline.

In his first full professional season, all Crow-Armstrong did was hit .312/.376/.520 with 16 homers, 20 doubles, 10 triples, 61 RBIs, 32 stolen bases and 89 runs in 101 games between Single-A Myrtle Beach and High-A South Bend. He played in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Games, helped South Bend win the Midwest League title and picked up a Minor League Gold Glove Award.

Crow-Armstrong hopes to build on all of that this year with his teammates.

"We're talking about it, like, we could see three, four championships this year in the Minor Leagues," he said. "That's pretty exciting for us, you know? Yeah, I mean, where I was last year, it was just a completely different place. It's a different world. It doesn't even feel like I was the same person at that time [as] I am now."

He also knows how fast things can change over the course of this year, beginning with this taste of the big leagues in Spring Training. And the types of moves the Cubs made over the offseason -- signing the likes of Dansby Swanson and Bellinger, among others -- has the center fielder eager to get to Chicago.

"This is very, very exciting for younger guys who had the aspirations of being up there," Crow-Armstrong said. "For me, obviously, I want to be up there quick and soon and all that. So seeing the pieces kind of being put together ... it's kind of cool being able to see what we're getting into. You can see how the identity of the Cubs is starting to shape and form."