Matt Mervis Voted Early ROY Candidate, Pete Crow-Armstrong Named Best Defensive Prospect

I’m late to the party on these and playing catch-up after covering the results of overall farm system voting, so this will be a quickie. MLB Pipeline polled front office executives on a number of topics, including Rookie of the Year favorites and which prospects have the best tools in the minors. The Cubs had a nice showing as a whole, with several individual players getting nods.

First up is Matt Mervis, who put himself on the map with a monster 2022 season that included three different levels and the Arizona Fall League. He’s even on Team Israel’s preliminary roster for the WBC, which is really cool. Though outfielder Corbin Carroll of the D-backs ran away with 66% of the vote for projected NL ROY and Mets catcher Francisco Álvarez took 9%, Mervis was among those receiving votes.

I really think he’ll be able to hold his own in the bigs, whether it’s as the everyday first baseman or DH. Most of his impact will come from his power from the left side, with his gap-to-gap line drive approach leading to lots of happy accidents going over the fence. To wit, Mervis also received at least one vote in the poll on which prospect has the most usable power.

Pete Crow-Armstrong could hold his own in center field even if he never plays another inning in the minors, though the Cubs want to make sure he polishes his offense a bit. He did receive votes for the prospect with the best hit tool, which is encouraging, and he also tied for fourth with 6% of the vote on which prospect has the most speed.

But the glove is what will carry PCA to the majors, and he may have the best in all of Minor League Baseball. Hell, I’d put him up there with the elite defenders in the bigs as well. When asked who was the best defensive prospect in the game, Crow-Armstrong led everyone with 14% of the vote. That includes all positions at all levels of the minors, so it’s not like a bunch of outfielders are splitting the poll.

He also received votes as having the best baseball IQ, which I believe is tied directly to his 80-grade proprioception. That could be why he was among those named one of the game’s most underrated prospects, which seems strange when he’s ranked atop the Cubs system and sits high in any overall rankings. Should tell you just how good he could be when he develops a bit more.

Kevin Alcántara and Alexander Canario received votes in the underrated category as well, and both Jeremiah Estrada and Daniel Palencia were named among the best future closers. Luis Devers, the club’s 2022 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, received votes as having the best pitchability.

That the Cubs have just one prospect showing up in bold type across any of these polls with several others in the honorable mention category matches up with them having an underrated system on the whole. Based on how things shake out over the next few months, they should be able to leverage their depth in the minors to supplement the big club in a variety of ways.

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