Prospect Crow-Armstrong knows all about The Show Business, which originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
MESA, Ariz. — Pete Crow-Armstrong isn’t a major league center back, at least not yet. But he played one on TV the other day – making a sliding catch in center field and later drawing a walk on the game-winning rally in a Cubs spring game.
It’s no surprise to see the organization’s fourth-ranked prospect show his talent when given the chance, especially on the field, where Baseball America calls him the best defensive outfielder in the Cubs’ system.
If anything, it’s the ease on the bigger stage and the balance around it that seem most impressive about Crow-Armstrong at this early stage in his professional baseball career.
But maybe that shouldn’t be so surprising either.
Because while Crow-Armstrong has only six official pro games of on-court experience since being drafted in 2020 — thanks to a pandemic his first year and a shoulder injury his second — he has more. more experience on the big stages than most people have in a lifetime.
“My parents were probably the ones who would say it’s not real,” Crow-Armstrong said of growing up in Southern California with actor parents — including recurring roles for both on the show. televised. Hero.
Although they enjoyed their jobs, his parents, Ashley Crow and Matthew John Armstrong, kept home life more “quiet” and separate, he said.
“We didn’t live in Hollywood. We didn’t live under any spotlight,” he said. “Nothing about my childhood had anything to do with the entertainment business, it was like, because I think my parents wanted me as far away as possible.”
Well, almost nothing. He had this favorite babysitter. And he hung out on set a lot when he was young.
“All the time,” he says. “And it was fun for me. I loved being around older actors and I loved being guarded by my mom’s co-stars and so on.
“Hayden Panettiere kept me. I had the biggest crush on her,” Crow-Armstrong said. “Yeah, I’d say she was probably the coolest to me.”
These days, Pete’s mom coaches acting more often than acting. And his father — who grew up in Naperville and passed on his Cubs fandom to his son — primarily teaches high school English.
But if the kid who was blindsided by last July’s trade from the Mets to his favorite team — for his favorite player, Javy Báez, no less — ends up riding the wings of all that baseball talent from A-ball to the majors as part of Jed Hoyer’s ‘next big Cubs team’, it’s hard to imagine anyone this side of Ed Howard would have the experience and life skills to better handle the jar at media fish and the trials at Wrigley Field and its 40,000 jurors.
“He’s an impressive young man, on and off the court,” said Cubs farm manager Jared Banner, who was with the Mets when they drafted Crow-Armstrong 19th overall from Harvard- Westlake High School – the LA baseball powerhouse that once had Lucas Giolito, Jack Flaherty and Max Fried on its team at the same time.
Crow-Armstrong downplays the impact his spotlight-adjacent upbringing could have on his balance and comfort beyond his age both in a big-league spring outfield and in a 20-minute session in front of a Chicago television camera.
“I think I’m just trying to be myself and…I don’t know,” he said. “Cameras are cameras, man.
” I am just me. I am here to play baseball.
So far so good as far as the Cubs — and trade publications — go. Lost seasons and all.
He is considered one of the brightest prospects among the nine the Cubs have acquired in trades over the past 15 months from All-Stars Yu Darvish, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Báez in the second frontline rebuild office in a decade.
Before Crow-Armstrong injured his shoulder last season, he had his professional total of 32 plate appearances, all at low-A Port St. Lucie, Fla., going 10 for 24 (.417) with two doubles and seven walks. . He even stole two bases.
By the time the trade deadline approached, he was well into a rehab program in Florida with the likelihood of a trade impossible to fathom — even after getting the call that it had actually happened.
“It was kind of wrong,” he said. “I just never imagined it happening. It was as surreal as it could have been. I don’t think it sank until I was [with the Cubs] for a good amount of time.
The trade hit all sorts of emotional hot spots for Crow-Armstrong and his family, especially his father.
The team that meant something personal. Being traded for the All-Star shortstop he idolized. Being traded at all – never mind while recovering from a serious injury.
“The weirdest thing was realizing my place in the game now,” he said of the business side. “Like, we’re all just another player, but anything can happen. It showed me that sharpness.
He was on his way to meet his parents, who were in Florida to see him, when he got the call that he had been traded. His dad kept his cool in the moment upon hearing the news, but “was through the roof” on Pete joining his Cubs.
It all turned out to be just one more surreal chapter in the craziest two years to start a professional baseball career a player could have while gaining notoriety and stature among prospects.
“Pete’s done a great job in 2020 getting as many live batsmen as he can in California with a lot of great players there,” Banner said, adding that he followed that up with the League’s work. instruction in the Mets system after that. . “Obviously it’s not ideal that he got injured last season.”
Once the Cubs got him, he completed rehab and played a big role in their pre-spring mini-camp for some prospects.
“I think he’ll be more than ready,” Banner said. “He’s a great athlete. He’s a natural, competitive baseball player, and I think that will shine throughout the season.
What is certain is that he is completely recovered from the shoulder and physically ready.
As for the non-physical part of the experiments, this is where Crow-Armstrong said he may have “won more than I lost” in all that time without a match.
“I don’t think I lost anything,” he said. “Not playing and having these interesting circumstances thrown at me has done a lot more for me than just playing every day. I’m used to that.
“It’s hard to get kicked out of a season for a week. It’s hard to get kicked out of a season for a week when you haven’t played a season for over a year,” he said. -he declares. “So it’s done a lot more for me mentally and I’ve just learned to live my life as a quote-unquote adult without baseball.”
Says Banner: “It’s going to be a big year for him.”
If so, this won’t be the first big year in baseball for someone in the Crow-Armstrong family.
Ashley Crow’s most famous role is familiar to many baseball fans, at least of a certain age: mom, Jenny Heywood, in Little Big League.
Crow-Armstrong watched it many times over the years, he said, even though it came out eight years before he was born.
“I love this movie for what it is, not even the fact that my mom is in it,” said Crow-Armstrong, who discovered it on his own, independent of his parents. “It’s just a fun movie. It’s a feel-good movie. I don’t think you can dislike it.
Of course, once he started to become more prominent in baseball circles as a teenager and early teens, people started to make the connection and ask him about the movie and his mother.
Which makes you wonder which family member is most famous among baseball fans. It seemed pretty obvious at the time. Maybe even now.
The better question – at least for the Cubs – might be who will be the most famous in 10 years?
“If it’s still my mom, I wouldn’t be mad,” Crow-Armstrong said. “She deserves it. I don’t even think about 10 years later. I have to go low-A or rookie ball or high-A or wherever I start this year.
“I just need to have a season under my belt.”
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