Projecting C.J. Cron
The Los Angeles Angels farm system is not a completely barren wasteland, but it is relatively close. After Mike Trout was promoted to the majors, and with a number of trades made over the past few years in an attempt to get back to the postseason, the Angels are truly lacking anything that would resemble an impact prospect. Taylor Lindsay may end up developing into a starter, but most of the other prospects behind him are considered question marks.
Of those other prospects, perhaps the one that has the best chance of making an impact in the major leagues is C.J. Cron. His game can best be summed up in one word: power. He is thought to be the best power bat in the Angels system, and put that power stroke on display in 2012, slugging 27 home runs for the Inland Empire 66ers. While his numbers dropped in 2013 as he moved up to the Arkansas Travelers, he still put together a .274/.319/.428 batting line with 14 home runs. Even in that down year, Cron was still above average in the Texas League, providing relatively solid production.
However, there are questions with Cron. First and foremost has to be his plate discipline. Over his minor league career, he has struck out 189 times compared to 50 walks. Last season, Cron walked in just 4.1% of his plate appearances, far below the league average of 8.0%. That percentage was actually an increase over his career average, which is an abysmal 3.9%. Cron has managed to keep his strikeout totals low due to his ability to put the bat on the ball, but his tendency to swing at everything may be exploited at the major league level.
There is also the matter of where Cron will end up playing. Defensively, he is considered subpar, even for first base. With Albert Pujols locked in at first for the next few years, at least, he may need to move to another position. The only problem with that is that he may not have the athleticism to play elsewhere. Cron does, however, have a solid arm, having been a catcher in college until he tore his labrum. If the Angels are willing to be patient, Cron may be able to learn to play either corner outfield position.
That power bat, as well as the questions as to where C.J. Cron will end up playing defensively could end up with him becoming another Mark Trumbo. Trumbo also put up impressive power numbers in the minor leagues, and there were questions about his plate discipline and his eventual major league position. While Cron may not be the all-or-nothing player that Trumbo turned out to be, he may still be a worthwhile comparison.
Although Cron is one of the Angels top prospects, he may well turn into a cheap source of power, someone that is valuable to a team as long as he is not making that much money. Once he starts to hit arbitration, and his salary starts to increase, he could potentially be flipped for a decent prospect.
C.J. Cron could well surprise, and his ability to put the ball in play could translate at the major league level. But for now, Cron may end up as a relatively serviceable major league player.