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Cincinnati Reds Draft Preview - Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF

The Harvard-Westlake (CA) high school product projects as an elite CF with a sweet lefty swing.

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Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles has an alumni list that’s star-studded both on the field and off. Jon Lovitz, Bridget Fonda, Jake & Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Jamie Lee Curtis all walked its halls, as did astronaut Sally Ride and Jean Paul Getty. Athletically, twins Jason and Jarron Collins got their NBA paths started there, while the talented pitching trio of Max Fried, Lucas Giolito, and Jack Flaherty all graduated from the school’s baseball program within the last decade.

The next budding Wolverine just might be Pete Crow-Armstrong, a CF by trade committed to Vanderbilt University who, by all accounts, won’t ever matriculate to Nashville. That’s because he’s a shoe-in 1st round pick in next week’s MLB Draft, one who today was linked with the Cincinnati Reds at pick 12 by MLB Pipeline’s Jonathan Mayo in his latest mock draft.

Standing 6’1” and weighing 175 lbs to date, Crow-Armstrong possesses a ‘lean athletic build’ according to his Perfect Game profile, with a ‘chance to be an elite level centerfielder.’ Pair that with their description of him as ‘probably the most polished all around player in the 2020 class,’ and it’s pretty evident they’re sold on him as a game-changer, as the 2020 high school class is a pretty danged solid one.

Enter the Reds, who have been linked with many of the elite high school talents for pick #12 already. We’ve seen the likes of Austin Hendrick mentioned several times already, a similarly talented lefty-swinging HS OF, while fireballing HS RHP Mick Abel has also seen his name mentioned as a possibility there, too. That certainly doesn’t mean the Reds aren’t scouring the college ranks for options there, of course, as there’s so much that could happen in the first 11 picks that they’ve got to be prepped for endless scenarios, but it is at least interesting that there’s a distinct HS focus this time around, too.

What the Reds are faced with is the same problem I’m running into today in this brief, surface-level attempt to relay what Crow-Armstrong brings to the table - namely, a lack of recent information, as the coronavirus pandemic put a premature end to 2020 seasons across the country. That means high school players that might have been late-risers are a bit squeezed out in terms of scouting reports, and teams are unsurprisingly focusing on guys they’ve seen on big stages at previous points in their careers.

Crow-Armstrong fits that bill, as he was a member of the USA Baseball 18 and under team last summer, where he roomed with last year’s #2 overall pick Bobby Witt, as David Adler filled us in at Adler also notes in his thorough profile that Crow-Armstrong has represented the US at the national level dating back to at least 2014, meaning he’s been in very visible showcase events for plenty long enough to be evaluated, and all signs point to him being a pretty known quantity at this point.

Just ignore the mention about him being a Cubs fan for now, though, and keep that laser focus on the Grady Sizemore comps.

The potential for a five-tool player is certainly there, though there are currently some aspects of Crow-Armstrong’s game that are ahead of the others. His CF defense, speed, and throwing arm all look like plus tools today, but while his contact ability and bat speed are elite skills, the power still is only projectable at this point. There’s more there already than, say, Mike Siani, but he’s not the kind of prospect at this point that screams 30 home run hitter. Of course, that was a similar description of, say, Christian Yelich when he was a lanky lefty-swinging OF coming out of California as a 1st round pick.

Firmly rated as a mid-1st round pick, he would not be much of a reach for the Reds at pick 12, and might actually prove to be a bargain there given that a year ago he was in the conversation to maybe, maybe be the first player off the board. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the #20 player on their board overall, while The Athletic’s Keith Law has him coming off the board at #17 to Boston in his most recent mock draft. FanGraphs, meanwhile, has him as the #26 prospect on their board, ESPN ranks him 18th, and CBS Sports ranks him 18th, too.

For more on Crow-Armstrong, I suggest a quick perusal of the videos linked below.