The Yankees very rarely invite their previous year’s top draft pick to spring training, but they did so with catcher Austin Wells in 2021.
So, too, did the Mets with their first-round pick, and at a time where most 18-year-olds are looking forward to either their first college spring break or their waning days of high school, Pete Crow-Armstrong is “soaking it all in” down in Port St. Lucie.
“It's been great so far. Obviously, an unexpected turn of events a year ago. I don't know if I pictured myself here. I'm super fortunate that I am,” Crow-Armstrong said. “Just being around the amount of experience and stories and all of the stuff that I can learn from, it's nice just to be here and kind of take a step back, soak it all in, and get after it with all of these incredible players. And I've met some really great people, so I'm super, super lucky and super happy to be here."
Selected No. 19 overall last June, the prep outfielder from SoCal did not play again in 2020 after his season at Harvard-Westlake HS ended – and he didn’t expect to be headed to Florida so soon this spring.
“I was shocked. “I was in Scottsdale working out and doing my thing over there. I got the call from [Mets executive director of player development] Kevin Howard and it was a good conversation,” Crow-Armstrong said. “He made it very clear, he was like, ‘You’re not here to make the team.’ That’s something that everybody knew, right? Crazy year again, but a year that allowed me to be here. So I was surprised but I was also super happy, obviously. “It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been anticipating getting together with a bigger sample size of Mets people and I’m lucky that it happened this month.”
That role is cool with him, though, as Crow-Armstrong reiterated how happy he is to even have the chance to be around the major-leaguers he hopes to one day join.
"I just hope I make a good impression on people. I'm just thinking about getting along with everybody and doing this together, because the fact that I have no intentions of making a big league spot this year, I'm just trying to help out as much as I can,” he said. “I play because I love it, and I play because I want to be really, really great at this sport."
He’s got some great veterans to learn from, as the Mets added Mallex Smith, Albert Almora Jr., and Kevin Pillar to an outfield mix that includes burgeoning star Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo.
“They've all been super open to having conversations with me about whatever it is. I found myself talking to them about their past experiences playing, what mutual connections we have, on the field stuff that ultimately is gonna make me better,” Crow-Armstrong said, before adding this about the new additions: “Those three guys specifically, the major league experience that they've had and their defensive capabilities are something that I think anybody can take a look at and learn something from. They've been super generous and obviously, they're incredible people to talk to about the game and the defensive part of the game, too.”
Crow-Armstrong also spent some time this winter with Dominic Smith, who is also from southern California, and is learning left field at the major-league level.
"He was a guy that I was looking forward to meeting out here, and when he reached out, I was super excited that I got to just go swinging with him - that was great," Crow-Armstrong said. "The time I've spent around him here, too, has been unbelievable as well. That's a great dude right there, and I'm really lucky to have gotten a little bit of a head start with him back in L.A."
And hopefully, with the Mets’ spring slate starting Monday, Crow-Armstrong will get the chance to take some hacks for the first time since his senior season of prep ball was cut short last year.
"The anticipation was always there since June, but once it got closer to it being baseball season, I started getting that itch, that feeling where I wanted to really get out here really badly," he said. "I got the call to come here, and it became even more exciting and I became a little more anxious, but grateful and happy. Being out here, I mean, it's been way better than I even expected. I don't know what I came in here thinking. But in the last week, I've learned a lot more than I've learned in the last year."
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroWFAN