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WATCH: Pete Crow-Armstrong launches home run for first MLB hit after Cubs’ top prospect returns to majors

The Chicago Cubs were hit with some bad news Wednesday when Cody Bellinger landed on the 10-day injured list with two fractured ribs. He suffered the injury crashing into the wall Tuesday night, and it happened just as he was getting hot at the plate. Bellinger was 10 for 30 (.333) with three homers in his last eight games after going 9 for 54 (.167) in his first 14 games. 

Every injury creates an opportunity though, and to replace Bellinger, the Cubs called up top prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong. The man they call PCA made his MLB last September, going 0 for 14 at the plate while mostly being used as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement. Crow-Armstrong was hitting only .203/.241/.392 in Triple-A at the time of his call up.

Thursday afternoon, Cubs manager Craig Counsell put Crow-Armstrong in the starting lineup against Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros (CHC 3 HOU 1), and the 22-year-old rewarded his manager’s faith with a go-ahead two-run home run against Rafael Montero in the sixth inning that would serve as the winning runs. In one swing PCA picked up his first career hit, first career home run, and first career RBI.

The Cubs are also without Seiya Suzuki, who is out with an oblique strain, so there’s a chance Crow-Armstrong will get a good amount of playing time these next few weeks. Ian Happ and Mike Tauchman are going to play every day. The lefty hitting Crow-Armstrong and righty hitting Alexander Canario figure to platoon in the other outfield spot for the time being.

“Pete’s here because of injuries, right? When these guys get healthy, there’s probably not going to be a spot for him,” Counsell said after Crow-Armstrong was called up (via MLB.com). “And so, from that perspective, we’re maybe taking a timeout (from his minor league development). But I still think big league at-bats, big league competition, that’s development, too. It may not be on an everyday basis here, but there’s still things to learn. And really, the priority is going to be winning games, and we’ll put him in spots that hopefully help us do that.”

Our R.J. Anderson ranked Crow-Armstrong the 16th best prospect in baseball entering the season. Here’s his write-up:

Crow-Armstrong, acquired from the Mets at the 2021 deadline for Javier Báez, is one of the game’s best young defensive outfielders. He moves well and throws well, and he should be in contention for a Gold Glove Award beginning in 2024. That much is certain. What’s less sure is how Crow-Armstrong will perform offensively. He’s learned to lift the ball with greater frequency as a pro, but he’s paid rent on it in the form of a rising strikeout rate. It’s probably reasonable to think of Crow-Armstrong’s outlook as being something akin to Harrison Bader‘s days with the Cardinals. There are worse fates. 

Crow-Armstrong was the No. 19 pick in the 2020 draft. His parents are actors and his mother, Ashley Crow, appeared in the film “Little Big League” as well as the TV show “Heroes.”

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