What you need to know about PCA's debut

September 11th, 2023

DENVER -- Cubs fans have been hoping to see top prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong play a part in the team’s push for the postseason. That day has arrived, with the North Siders’ decision to promote the highly touted center fielder from Triple-A Iowa.

Here is an FAQ-style breakdown of PCA’s much-anticipated arrival.

How can you watch the games?

With Crow-Armstrong set to arrive in Denver on Monday, expect his debut to come during the three-game road series against the Rockies. Colorado hosts the Cubs at 7:40 p.m. CT on Monday and Tuesday, followed by a 2:10 p.m. CT tilt on Wednesday. All three games will be televised on MLB.TV and Marquee Sports Network, and broadcast on the radio at 670 The Score.

What position will Crow-Armstrong play?

PCA is an elite center fielder, so expect to see him get action up the middle. MLB Pipeline gives him an 80 grade for defense, given his plus speed and tremendous instincts in the field. Last season, Crow-Armstrong picked up a Minor League Gold Glove Award for his work in center.

Why is this happening now?

The Cubs did not make Crow-Armstrong a Sept. 1 callup, because Cody Bellinger and Mike Tauchman have formed a solid combination in center field. There were no regular at-bats to offer PCA, so having him continue to play at Triple-A made more sense. And in his last 10 games with Iowa, the 21-year-old outfielder hit .311 (.859 OPS), including a 7-for-10 showing in his last two games.

With only a couple weeks left in September, this gives the Cubs a chance to see if Crow-Armstrong is ready to use his speed, defense and offensive pop to make an impact as a role player. First baseman Jeimer Candelario also exited Sunday’s game early due to a back issue, so Bellinger could be seeing more innings at first to give Candelario a window to rest and recover.

Cubs manager David Ross also noted the spacious dimensions of the Coors Field outfield, so having Crow-Armstrong’s defense could help the run prevention during the series in Denver.

How highly is Crow-Armstrong rated?

According to MLB Pipeline, Crow-Armstrong is the Cubs’ No. 1 prospect and the No. 12 prospect in all of baseball.

Will Crow-Armstrong play every day?

Bellinger is having an MVP-caliber campaign, so he is the Cubs’ No. 1 center fielder without question. Behind him, Tauchman has been one of the unsung heroes of Chicago’s season, stepping in as a part-time leadoff hitter and center fielder. Tauchman tends to play center on days Bellinger moves to first base.

With a full and healthy roster, Ross would have to pick spots for using Crow-Armstrong over Tauchman in center. If Bellinger is playing first base more than center for a stretch, that would potentially open more opportunities for PCA to get into the lineup. Otherwise, he has tools to make an impact off the bench.

Ross did say prior to Monday’s game that Crow-Armstrong would have some starts “mixed in” for the Cubs.

How did the Cubs acquire PCA?

The Mets used the 19th overall pick in the 2020 Draft to select Crow-Armstrong out of Los Angeles’ Harvard-Westlake High School, an amateur baseball factory. At the Trade Deadline in ‘21, when Chicago was starting an aggressive two-year rebuild project, the Cubs acquired PCA from New York in exchange for shortstop Javier Báez and righty Trevor Williams.

How has Crow-Armstrong done this season?

PCA has played 107 games between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa this year, hitting .283/.365/.511 with 20 homers, 26 doubles, seven triples, 82 RBIs and 98 runs. He has 37 steals in 47 attempts, along with 129 strikeouts and 46 walks in 500 plate appearances. In 34 games with Iowa, Crow-Armstrong hit .271/.350/.479 with 10 steals, 15 extra-base hits, 15 walks, 22 RBIs, 30 runs and 38 hits.