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May 7, 2014

The Call-Up

C.J. Cron

by Ron Shah and Bret Sayre


The Situation: Key injuries and a lack of production have tested the Angels’ internal depth, and the team is now turning to C.J. Cron (the no. 3-ranked prospect in the system entering 2014) in hopes that he can fill the void.

Background: With their first-round selection (no. 17 overall) in the 2011 draft, the Angels opted to go the safe route, taking Cron, an advanced college bat with a history of performance. From the day Cron entered pro ball, talent evaluators labeled the Utah University product a designated hitter, alluding to his lack of defensive value while simultaneously putting enormous pressure on the bat. Despite his college polish, the Angels have taken it slowly with Cron, with annual promotions up the minor league ranks. He stumbled some in Double-A last year but put up a .319/.369/.602 slash line in 28 games in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

The Scouting: The 24-year-old’s prospect status is completely dependent on his raw power. Fortunately for Cron, he’s not lacking at all in that department, as his barbaric strength allows him to draw 80-grade raw power evaluations from talent evaluators. Cron is a very large human being, and he’s capable of sending tape-measure shots out of any ballpark during batting practice.

Cron’s biggest challenge will be translating that ability to drive the ball in BP into in-game performance and proving that he’s more than just a five o’clock hitter at the highest level. His questionable hit tool prevents his raw power from having the utility it would in the abstract.

At the plate, Cron displays an approach fueled by a see-ball-hit-ball mentality. His uncontrolled aggression puts him behind in counts more often than not, where he then is forced to change his approach and focus more on putting the ball in play rather than focusing on finding a pitch that he can convert into a souvenir. Pitchers can capitalize on Cron’s discomfort against same-sided pitching and his inability to protect the entire plate. Most large hitters struggle to protect the inner third of the plate without having to cheat for it, but Cron’s plate coverage issues stem from his failure to cover the outer half of the plate.

It’s difficult to see how Cron can provide value anywhere outside of the batter’s box. It certainly won’t be on the bases, as Cron is a lumbering runner with poor pure speed. Once labeled solely as a bat-only prospect, Cron has made strides with the glove, but he still grades out as a fringe-average defender at first base with limited range.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Minor League Update: G... (05/07)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article The Call-Up: Marcus St... (05/05)
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Premium Article The Call-Up: Rougned O... (05/09)
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Painting the Black: Ri... (05/07)

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