‘Couldn’t have drawn that up’: Trade to Cubs brought Pete Crow-Armstrong full circle

Crow-Armstrong was a Javy Baez fan growing up, then the outfield prospect was traded for the star shortstop.

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Cubs prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong chases a fly ball during minor league mini camp at the Cubs spring training facility in Mesa, Arizona.

Cubs prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong chases a fly ball during minor league mini camp at the Cubs spring training facility in Mesa, Arizona.

John Antonoff/Sun-Times

MESA, Ariz. — Cubs outfield prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong could go on and on about what makes Javy Baez a special player.

‘‘Baseball knows who Javy is,’’ said Crow-Armstrong, who grew up a Cubs fan. ‘‘Javy’s the man.’’

How fitting, then, that the Mets dealt Crow-Armstrong to the Cubs for Baez and right-hander Trevor Williams at the trade deadline in July.

‘‘Never would have expected that at all,’’ Crow-Armstrong told the Sun-Times. ‘‘I couldn’t have drawn that up.’’

Crow-Armstrong was recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder when the Cubs acquired him. On Thursday, he said that it’s ‘‘doing great’’ and that he was cleared more than a week ago. He entered camp with no restrictions.

‘‘Pete’s a really impressive young prospect,’’ Cubs vice president of player development Jared Banner said. ‘‘Premium defender in center field. And the most exciting part is he’s hitting the ball as hard as ever right now. So it’s great to just have him healthy again.’’

Crow-Armstrong, a first-round draft pick in 2020, is ranked as the Cubs’ No. 5 prospect by MLB.com. The Mets invited him to big-league camp last year, and the 19-year-old hit .417 in six games in Low-A before the injury.

‘‘It was tough,’’ Crow-Armstrong said. ‘‘I felt like I had hit a stride.’’

He hurt his shoulder diving into third base on wet artificial turf last May. On the bright side, the injury wasn’t to his left (throwing) shoulder. He was cleared to hit in November.

‘‘It forced me to take a step back, and that was OK,’’ Crow-Armstrong said. ‘‘Slowed me down, and I think I’m better for it. I think I’m a little tougher up in the head.’’

Crow-Armstrong grew up in California, but he inherited his Cubs fandom from his dad, actor Matthew John Armstrong, who is from Naperville.

Crow-Armstrong remembers going to only one game at Wrigley Field, when he was maybe 3 years old, but his childhood is filled with memories of Cubs teams starring Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez.

The Cubs were bad for much of Crow-Armstrong’s early fanhood before Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer came in and pulled off a successful rebuild.

‘‘Very quickly, my attention turned to Javy,’’ Crow-Armstrong said.

Even without that background, Crow-Armstrong said he would have been invested in the organization when he joined it at the trade deadline. But the nature of his journey is ‘‘still hard to wrap [his] head around.’’

Crow-Armstrong’s dad told him it took weeks for the news to sink in for him.

Now Crow-Armstrong is part of the next Cubs rebuild — even if Hoyer won’t call it that — one they initiated when they traded Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo last summer.

Crow-Armstrong said he isn’t concerned about where he’ll start the regular season, let alone long-term organizational plans.

‘‘I like looking at baseball fields again, being able to step on them again and do my thing out there,’’ he said. ‘‘And it’s a really good group of guys to be able to do it with.’’

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