Angels prospect C.J. Cron is a realist. He knows Los Angeles has a long-term commitment to Albert Pujols as well as a potential first baseman in Mark Trumbo. But Cron is confident in his own ability; he will let his play dictate his future.
My latest look at the Angels' No. 2 prospect came in the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game at Citi Field. The 23-year-old right-handed-hitting first baseman hit in the cleanup spot for the winning United States team, collecting two singles and scoring a run.
After Cron's high school graduation, the White Sox selected him in the 44th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. He elected instead to attend the University of Utah, seeing time as a catcher and first baseman.
Following Cron's outstanding collegiate career -- celebrated by multiple honors and awards -- the Angels took him with the 17th overall pick in the 2011 Draft. Cron was shifted from catcher to first base and is still at that position today.
Cron, the son of Minor League manager Chris Cron, has a potent bat. Playing in the California League during his second season of professional baseball, the 6-foot-4, 235-pounder hit 27 home runs and drove in 123 runs for Class A Advanced Inland Empire. It was a continuation of the good rookie season he experienced in Orem of the Pioneer League.
This season, Cron advanced once again and is now playing Double-A ball for the Arkansas Travelers of the Texas League. His drop in home runs so far this season -- down to eight -- is a reflection of his new, less hitter-friendly environment.
Cron is a sophisticated hitter with a very refined knowledge of the strike zone. While he could stand to walk more, it has been evident throughout his career that he prefers to swing the bat. Cron has walked only 16 times in 423 plate appearances so far this season. In fact, in 1,139 career trips to the plate, he has only 43 walks. But to be fair, Cron has struck out only 159 times in that same period.
Looking fastball first and adjusting well to the breaking ball, Cron goes to the plate to make contact. And he does.
There are those who speculate the Angels could convert Cron back to catcher. However, he still projects as a first baseman with power. That's a position and tool combination in short supply around the league.
Defensively adequate -- but without much speed -- it is his power tool that attracts Cron to club executives and scouts. Now all he needs is a chance to use that power; he has to remain patient.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.