He may not have shown the power much in 2013, but C.J. Cron remains one of the better power hitting prospects in the majors. The question is whether or not the rest of his tools will be good enough for him to make it in the bigs.
Position: 1B Highest Level: Double-A
Bats: R Throws: R Height: 6'4" Weight: 235
Age: 24 Born: 1/5/1990
2013 Rank: 3
2013 Season Stats
Double-A: 565 PA, .274 AVG, .319 OBP, .428 SLG, 36 2B, 1 3B, 14 HR, 83 RBI, 83 SO, 8 SB, 4 CS, .298 BABIP, .328 wOBA, 107 wRC+
AFL: 92 PA, .413 AVG, .467 OBP, .700 SLG, 6 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 20 RBI, 11 SO, 0 SB, 0 CS, .424 BABIP, .516 wOBA, 213 wRC+
Contact = A-
The type of ability to make contact Cron has isn’t unheard of, but predominantly, such hand-eye coordination comes from middle infielders and outfielders who rely on their ability to run to make big differences in the game. Cron however is a hulking, power hitting first baseman, which makes him all the more dangerous as a middle of the order presence.
Power = B+
Watching Cron during batting practice is often a sight to see. With the exception of Mark Trumbo, C.J. Cron is capable of reaching parts of the ballpark unvisited by baseballs before. In terms of physical strength, he has no equal in the system. The problem however is that Cron didn’t hit as many HR’s as many would’ve pegged him for this season, he hit a lot more DB’s instead. Normally one could write this off as Dickey Stephens Park being the hardest place to hit a HR in all of minor league baseball. But the problem with that logic is that players without as much power as Cron has, like Taylor Lindsey and Randal Grichuk didn’t seem to have a problem depositing balls over the OF fence. So why exactly didn’t Cron hit 27 bombs just like he did in A Ball if he still has the same power? The answer is likely a complicated one with many facets. The first being that Dickey Stephens Park turned quite a few of his HR’s into DB’s instead. The second reason could simply be a higher level of pitching. Pitchers are able to locate their offpseed pitches in AA, and these are more difficult to square up. The third reason appears to be rooted in Cron’s approach. Though his average was close to the same as it was in A Ball, Cron reached base more often, which suggests that he became more of a professional hitter and less of a free-swinger. As for Lindsey and Grichuk’s increased HR totals without Cron’s increasing, both Lindsey and Grichuk reached their age 21 season, which is a common age when ballplayers bodies tend to mature and increase in strength. At age 23, Cron likely doesn’t have any more physical maturing to do, though he does appear to be losing a lot of the baby fat in the same way Trumbo did in AA and AAA. Regardless, Cron has great power. He likely won’t have elite major league power because of the position he plays but it still appears likely he may become a 25 HR type of hitter someday.
Discipline = C-
Cron flashed an improved approach in his first season in AA, with lower strikeout totals and more BB. He still doesn’t have the great OBP you tend to see from many power hitting first baseman, which again makes Cron such an interesting case. He strikes out less and hits for a higher average than most power hitters, but also doesn’t walk as often and thus reach base as often. One trend we did see emerge with Cron is a willingness to chase bad pitches. Unlike most hitters, Cron still makes contact with these bad pitches, but he’s unable to generate much power on these pitches which results in infield flys, and groundballs.
Speed = D
As I said last season, Cron is no Bengie Molina on the base paths. He stole a surprising amount of bases this season in AA, which is odd because Cron really isn’t fast. It isn’t his game.