Mets Covet Pete Crow-Armstrong For His Tools, Mental Toughness
Every player drafted in the first round has at least one standout tool.
Pete Crow-Armstrong is no different. The Los Angeles area prep is the best defensive outfielder in this year’s high school class. He is one of the best hitters and fastest runners, too.
But what set the 18-year-old lefthanded hitter and thrower apart for the Mets when they drafted him 19th overall were his mental skills.
“You draft him with tools and skills and physical ability in mind, but that will take you only so far,” Mets vice president of scouting Tommy Tanous said. “The minors are filled with players who don’t advance. What separates players is their mental toughness.
“Pete, through his time with Team USA, through high school, through individual meetings with us—he grades as high as anyone we’ve taken in the first round. He has a rare combination of skills, athleticism and plus makeup.”
Crow-Armstrong is no stranger to the spotlight. Both his parents are actors. He has been a stalwart for USA Baseball’s national teams since he was 12. He played at Harvard-Westlake, that high school that produced big league pitchers Jack Flaherty, Max Fried and Lucas Giolito, all three first-round picks.
A year ago, Crow-Armstrong was regarded as the best high school player in his draft class. He stumbled on the showcase circuit but shined in 10 games this spring before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the season.
“I love to display the intangibles as well as what I can bring physically,” Crow-Armstrong said. “As a baseball player, I want to get fans excited ... I want to be more than just a baseball player. I want to make an impact.”
Crow-Armstrong said he brings the on-field energy of Javier Baez or Ronald Acuña Jr. and that he drew inspiration as a kid from the way MVP center fielders Andrew McCutchen and Ken Griffey Jr. played the game.
“They were guys who look like they’re having a good time,” Crow-Armstrong said. “That’s how I always modeled my game.”
According to general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, the Mets had been targeting Crow-Armstrong for months. The GM said he places faith in his scouting department’s ability to identify players with offensive upside and his player development staff to develop their swings.
The Mets’ recent track record backs up Van Wagenen. The organization’s first-round picks in the 2010s include Brandon Nimmo in 2011, Dominic Smith in 2013, Michael Conforto in 2014 and since-traded Jarred Kelenic in 2018—not to mention all-stars Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso, last year’s National League Rookie of the Year.
“Draft strategy is something we talk a lot about. Philosophy is part of any draft war room discussion,” Van Wagenen said. “When the board is built, sometimes it takes care of itself. Pete was so far up our board that, regardless of position or high school or college, it didn’t matter because he stood out so much that we had to take him.”
The Mets view Crow-Armstrong as a future top-of-the-order hitter and a “magician” in center field, which has been a shallow position in the organization since injuries took their toll on Juan Lagares and Kelenic was traded to the Mariners.
“The anticipation element to his game is as good as I’ve seen in a long time for a center fielder,” scouting director Marc Tramuta said. “It’s fun to watch this type of center fielder.”
Tanous listed Crow-Armstrong’s best offensive attributes as advanced bat-to-ball skills, great feel for the barrel, the speed to leg out hits and the power to drive the ball to the gaps.
“He’s a high contact hitter with some power behind it,” Tanous said. “But he’s been increasing his power since he was 15. His path to the ball is great and he keeps getting stronger.”