PCA ‘grateful’ for Cubs’ transparency with his development

June 10th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Jordan Bastian's Cubs Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CINCINNATI -- It was not a test for , but the Cubs were paying attention to how the young center fielder processed his brief stint with Triple-A Iowa from May 20-30. How players respond in the wake of tough news like that is feedback for the Major League evaluators.

Crow-Armstrong handled it well.

“I was proud of how Pete went down to the Minor Leagues,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said. “Essentially, it's a demotion, right? And he went and continued to play well. And I thought that was important. Whatever messages we send, the player has to somehow figure out a way to control what he can control.”

What mattered to the 22-year-old Armstrong -- Pipeline’s top Cubs prospect prior to graduating from the rankings earlier this season -- was that Chicago’s leadership was transparent with him throughout the process.

After Crow-Armstrong came up to the Majors to help fill in for an injured Cody Bellinger on April 24, the Cubs made it known from the jump that the prospect was likely headed back to the Minors when Bellinger returned. His job was to keep focused on playing with Iowa and improving and earning a promotion back to the big leagues.

“They did exactly what they said they were going to do with me,” Crow-Armstrong said. “I did what I could up here. I tried to play my part to the best of my ability and they stuck to their word. That's the one thing is they've shot me straight. That's given me a sense of comfort and confidence going into my day-to-day thing.

“I feel grateful for how I've been treated and brought back up and just how things have been verbalized. I'm proud of myself for how I handled my week in Iowa. It's just one of those things where I've got to take information from up here back down with me, and I've got to take more back up with me.

“You don't want it to have to happen again, but I think it does a lot for you. It lights a fire, and it gives you perspective, and it gives you time. I'm proud of how I handled it. But I also think I got set up well by people here.”

Between May 21-28 in Triple-A, all Crow-Armstrong did was hit .387 (12-for-31) with three homers, four doubles, five stolen bases, seven RBIs and 10 runs in seven games for the I-Cubs. Since he returned to the Cubs on May 30, Counsell has utilized him as a part-time starter in center and a weapon off the bench given his speed and defensive ability.

It has not been all smooth sailing in the big leagues, considering Crow-Armstrong has hit .205 with a .554 OPS in 32 games. But the outfielder has seven steals in seven chances and has generated six Defensive Runs Saved to go along with four Outs Above Average in his 197 innings in center.

“Now, Pete's job is just to kind of do whatever he can to help us win,” Counsell said. “Pete's addition -- somebody's kind of sitting every day -- but it's also strengthened us late in the game, and I think it's paid some real dividends in some of the games we've played already.

“So it's not just Pete being here -- it's what he does to our roster that I think has been really helpful.”