Addressing an immediate position of need, the New York Mets selected center fielder Pete Crow-Armstrong with the 19th-overall pick of the 2020 MLB Draft on Wednesday night.
The 18-year-old left-hander out Harvard-Westlake High School in California — a school which also recently produced St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, Atlanta Braves pitcher Max Fried, and the Chicago White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito — was ranked by noted baseball prospect analyzer Baseball America as the No. 17 prospect in the class of 2020 and the seventh-best outfield prospect by Major League Baseball.
Before his senior season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, Crow-Armstrong was batting .514 through 10 games, striking out just once in 42 at-bats as he lived up to his billing as a Perfect Game Preseason All-American First Team selection. In his junior year, he batted .426 with three home runs and five triples, showing surprising glimpses of power for a player with his six-foot, 175-pound frame.
Crow-Armstrong also represented Team USA on multiple levels, appearing for the 18U National Team in 2018 and 2019, the 15U National Team in 2017, and the 12U National Team in 2014.
While he’s shown he can handle the bat, Crow-Armstrong’s most prominent asset is his defense and speed, creating the makings of a dependable center fielder that finally offers the promise of a five-tool player for the Mets at that position.
Mets vice president of scouting, Tommy Tanous, described Crow-Armstrong as a “left-handed magician” in center field (h/t Deesha Thosar, NY Daily News).
The center-field spot has been one of the Mets’ largest weaknesses in recent years.
Juan Lagares never met his true potential as the organization’s bona fide everyday center fielder due to injury issues and an inconsistent bat. It proved too much to keep him around heading into the 2020 season despite being one of the best defensive center fielders in the game.
It’s forced the Mets to rely on Brandon Nimmo — normally a corner outfielder — and Jake Marisnick, whose game is similar to Lagares’ but with more power.
The Mets had little to offer in terms of prospects at the position, either. None of their top-15 minor-leaguers were outfielders. The team’s No. 16 prospect, Alexander Ramirez, is just 17 years old and hasn’t played a game for the organization’s minor-league affiliate.