The Mets like the Pete they already have so much, they added another one Wednesday night.
With the 19th pick in the MLB Draft, the Mets chose Southern California high school centerfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong, a move that helps fill an organizational need for outfielders at all levels of the minors.
Crow-Armstrong, listed at 6-foot and 175 pounds, employs a high-contact approach at the plate that has the Mets projecting him as a speedy top-of-the-order hitter.
But his greatest strength is defense. Tommy Tanous, the Mets’ senior advisor of amateur scouting, said he is “fearless” and a “magician” in center, where he is expected to stay long term.
“He was probably the easiest centerfielder that I have had a chance to scout,” Tanous said.
Marc Tramuta, director of amateur scouting, added: “The anticipation element to his game is as good as I’ve seen in a really long time in an amateur centerfielder. There’s such a natural glide to what he does, an ease to what he does, in centerfield, going into each gap, going back, coming in. It’s just different from everybody else.”
That skill set has made Crow-Armstrong, 18, a national standout since he was a preteen, when he made the Team USA 12-and-under squad. He also played for the 15U and 18U national teams.
“He’s been a big fish in a big pond for a long time,” general manger Brodie Van Wagenen said, “and I think his personality and his confidence will play very well in New York City.”
About that personality and confidence: Crow-Armstrong might remind Mets fans of the other Pete, reigning NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso.
“As a baseball player, I want to get the fans engaged and excited, so I definitely bring a lot of energy,” Crow-Armstrong said. “I’m a big talker. … Being vocal on the field is all around a good thing to do.”
Van Wagenen said: “We want to have players that believe in themselves. We want to have players that aren’t afraid to show emotion on the field. Pete is one of those guys.”
Both of Crow-Armstrong’s parents, mother Ashley Crow and father Matthew John Armstrong, are actors. Crow has been in “Little Big League” — she was Jenny Heywood, the mom — and “Heroes.” Armstrong’s credits include “American Dreams” and a shorter stint on “Heroes.”
Crow-Armstrong is committed to Vanderbilt, a perennial college baseball powerhouse. He attended Harvard-Westlake in Los Angeles, the high school that produced pitchers Jack Flaherty (Cardinals), Lucas Giolito (White Sox) and Max Fried (Braves).
Like that trio, Crow-Armstrong is advised by Ryan Hamill of CAA, the agency that Van Wagenen used to help run.
“They’ve always been super gracious with their time,” Crow-Armstrong said of Flaherty, Giolito and Fried, who return to their alma mater every offseason. “Every time they come, they’re always incredible open and willing to give advice.”
Crow-Armstrong played in only 10 games in his senior season before the sports world shut down. But he was “lucky,” he said, to live in an environment conducive to baseball year-round, so he had a productive fall and winter.
His statistics are the kind of gaudy you should expect from one of the best amateurs in the country: .514 average and one strikeout in 42 at-bats this spring. Last year as a junior, he hit .426 with three homers and five triples.
The Mets don’t have much in the form of outfield prospects. Their best, according to MLB Pipeline, is Alexander Ramirez, who is 17 and has not played a professional game yet. Michael Conforto is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2021 season, Brandon Nimmo the same after 2022.
This is the third year in a row the Mets picked a high school position player with their top choice, after third baseman Brett Baty in 2019 and since-traded outfielder Jarred Kelenic in 2018.
MLB owners chose to shorten the draft from 40 rounds to five in an effort to spend less money. On the second and final day of the draft Thursday, the Mets will have five choices in four rounds.
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