C.J. Cron, First Baseman
Here it is, our number one prospect as voted by staff of InsideTheHalos and help from some friends in the Angels media. C.J. Cron, a power house of a baseball player. Cron, a product out of the University of Utah had one of the best bats in college, and now has one of the best bats in the minor leagues. A star in the 2013 Arizona Fall League has put him at another level, above everyone else in the Angels minor league organization. He has Major League talent today but has one flaw in his game that needs to be fixed. With our final prospect, we say goodbye for the 2014 countdown and look forward to what this season has to offer.
Cron's hitting abilities are outstanding, with the exception of one aspect, his discipline. Cron doesn't strike out a lot due to his good contact, but he has trouble waiting on pitches and finding ones to fall in love with. Cron has improved every year with his discipline, but he still doesn't see a lot of pitches. If he can start seeing more pitches, swinging at the right pitches, and gaining a little bit better of an approach at the plate, Cron could turn in to an All-Star hitter of the future.
As for Cron's bat as a whole, it's great. He has raw power supported by his six-foot-four, 235 pound frame, but also has that pop that not a whole lot of prospects have. Most of his power comes from his upper body. He used to have a torquing motion to his swing from his wrist, and a large stride taking away from good contact sometimes, which he has improved on in the minors. He doesn't strikeout as much or have necessarily the immense amount of power of Mark Trumbo, but he very easily could draw comparisons once he reaches the Major Leagues.
Cron has improved on his contact since taking away the torquing motion and long stride in swings. He has no trouble seeing pitches, and makes good contact with over the top bat speed. Cron's discipline will be the difference maker on how good of contact he truly has, as we've seen him chase balls in the dirt, but he also has the abilities to catch up on high 90's fastballs, and also can adjust to breaking pitches. If Cron can gain a slightly better approach at the plate, he could have the abilities to hit .300 on a few occasions in the Major Leagues.
Cron's defensive skills are right about par with what you'd expect. He's a big guy who isn't overly fast. He has a good glove, but sometimes can't make up the ground you need him to. We've seen him make flashy diving plays, and he is a hustle type player which helps. One thing is that Cron used to be a catcher in college until a torn labrum forced him to have shoulder surgery at the end of the 2012 season. First baseman don't necessarily need it, but he probably has the best arm (power and accuracy) from any first baseman in the minor leagues currently.
Cron's speed has improved shockingly. With a little bit bigger size, he gained some speed. He isn't going to impress anyone with this extra burst, but it is something. He stole eight bases last season in Double-A, and will probably never be given the green light to steal, but he has the ability to possibly round third on a slow grounder to the outfield, and turn sharp gap hits in to extra base hits with ease.
Cron came out of the University of Utah in the first round and jumped in to Rookie Ball with strides. He put up a .308/.371/.629 slash while hitting 13 home runs, helping him with his 41 RBI. Pretty astonishing numbers for a young man just jumping in to professional baseball, but it was nearly expected with such an outstanding bat.
Cron put up big, big, power numbers in 2012, with the help of a hitter-friendly Cal League. He began the season hitting just .202 in the first month, but picked up heavily, finishing the season with a .293/.327/.516 slash. Cron broke some minor league records for the Angels organization in 2012, finishing the season with 123 runs batted in. It was helped by his 27 home runs and 32 doubles, but it was by far the most impressive statistic in years from any Angels prospect (excluding the fish in center field with the big club currently).
Cron maintained good numbers in Double-A in 2013. His .274/.319/.428 bat showed he can keep up with good pitching in a pitcher friendly league. He kept his power numbers high with 14 bombs and 36 doubles, helping give him 83 runs batted in on the season.
Cron stunned everyone with his numbers in the Arizona Fall League at the end of the 2013 season though. His .413 batting average lead the league of stacked prospect talent, and he came a home run and four RBI shy of a triple crown for the league. Cron also showed strong discipline, walking eight times in 88 plate appearances with just 11 strikeouts as well, showing that more pitches could result in strong results for the young man. Cron displayed a .700 slugging percentage, helped by his five home runs, six doubles, and triple over his time in the AFL.
EXPECTED OF THE FUTURE:
Cron has shown he has abilities far above many others. With this, Cron should go straight to Triple-A out of Spring Training. A strong Spring Training will show that the Arizona Fall League was not just a fluke, but instead, his natural talent.
One problem that comes up for Cron is the blockage at first base with Albert Pujols. The Angels have signed former All-Star, Carlos Pena, and also have Efren Navarro ahead of Cron, but he has the talent to jump both of them. He more than likely though, will not jump Albert Pujols. Cron does provide a slightly better glove and every day first baseman ability, which could put Pujols as a permanent designated hitter. With all this said, Cron should see Major League time by at least 2015, and possibly late in 2014. Cron just turned 24, so time is slightly on the side of the Angels.
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