NEW YORK -- The movie “Little Big League” came out in 1994, so pardon Pete Crow-Armstrong, who was born eight years later, for not catching it in theaters. It was another decade or so before friends began noting to him the fact that his mother, actress Ashley Crow, played lead
NEW YORK -- The movie “Little Big League” came out in 1994, so pardon Pete Crow-Armstrong, who was born eight years later, for not catching it in theaters. It was another decade or so before friends began noting to him the fact that his mother, actress Ashley Crow, played lead actor Luke Edwards’ mom in the film.
“I love the movie,” Crow-Armstrong said. “I think I’d love it if my mom wasn’t in it. But she was obviously also great in it.”
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Now, Crow-Armstrong has a chance at a starring role of his own. The Mets on Wednesday selected the high school center fielder 19th overall in the MLB Draft, adding a player known for superb outfield defense and top-of-the-order contact skills to an organization in need of exactly that type of talent.
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“All spring, I called him the left-handed magician in center field,” said Mets vice president of amateur scouting Tommy Tanous.
Because Crow-Armstrong hails from Southern California, the Mets were able to watch him throughout the fall and winter, generating plenty of data despite the COVID-19 crisis limiting his Harvard-Westlake School team to 10 games. When Tanous and director of amateur scouting Marc Tramuta did watch Crow-Armstrong play, they paid particular attention to batting practice -- and not his own. Typical players might find it difficult to distinguish themselves while shagging fly balls. Crow-Armstrong routinely put on a show, catching balls between his legs as he showed off his skill set.
Tanous called Crow-Armstrong “the easiest center fielder I’ve had a chance to scout,” lauding his reads, hands and first-step quickness. Tramuta noted his “natural glide” and “ease.”
“It’s just different than everybody else,” the scouting director added.
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Of course, it’s not just defense that intrigued the Mets on Day 1; they envision Crow-Armstrong as a top-of-the-order hitter with enough speed to create chaos at the highest level. A Perfect Game preseason All-American, Crow-Armstrong hit .514 as a senior for a Harvard-Westlake program that has produced three other first-rounders in Jack Flaherty, Lucas Giolito and Max Fried, as well as former Mets infielder Josh Satin. Crow-Armstrong struck out just once in 42 at-bats.
As a junior, he batted .426 with three home runs and five triples. Along the way, Crow-Armstrong soaked up as much knowledge as he could from Flaherty, Giolito and Fried, who routinely returned to Harvard-Westlake during offseasons.
“They’ve always been super gracious with their time coming back,” Crow-Armstrong said. “Every time they come, they’re always incredibly open and willing to give advice. I’ve been super lucky to be able to interact with them over the last three, four years. Brief interactions … but pretty big impacts.”
The Mets hope Crow-Armstrong can have the same sort of impact at a position of significant need. The Mets do not have any outfielders among their Top 15 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline, and just three in the Top 30 -- none of whom have even reached Class A ball. Going against the usual mantra of general managers and scouting directors pursuing the top Draft prospects available regardless of position, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen admitted to having conversations with his staff about areas of need within the organization.
In the end, however, it didn’t matter. The Mets were that enamored with Crow-Armstrong.
“When the board is built, sometimes it takes care of itself,” said Van Wagenen, whose old CAA agency is advising Crow-Armstrong. “It stood out that we had to draft him. In this particular situation, he was a guy that we had targeted for months and months.”
When the Mets finally did call his name, Crow-Armstrong buried his head in his hands, clearly emotional to be selected at No. 19 overall.
“It’s really tough to explain,” Crow-Armstrong said of his emotions. “I’ve really never felt anything like this before. In the moment, it was shocking and it was a bit of a rush. But after that, it was just a ton of excitement to get ready to start with the Mets.”
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.