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Angels' top draft pick C.J. Cron displays power

First baseman agrees to terms with the club on a $1.467-million signing bonus, then hits several balls far over the fence during batting practice at Angel Stadium.

June 28, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Utah first baseman C.J. Cron during a game against Texas A&M this spring.
Utah first baseman C.J. Cron during a game against Texas A&M this spring. (Bob Levey / Getty Images )

After agreeing to terms with the Angels on a $1.467-million bonus, first-round pick C.J. Cron showed his power potential Monday, launching a number of balls well beyond the fence in Angel Stadium, including one that cleared both bullpens in left field.

"It's not quite [Mark] Trumbo pop, but close," Angels right fielder Torii Hunter said after watching the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Cron take batting practice. "And he still has milk behind the ears. Wait until he gets his man muscles."

Cron, the 17th overall pick in the June 6 draft, hit .434 with 15 home runs, 26 doubles and 59 runs batted in as a junior at Utah despite playing the entire season with a tear in his right (throwing) shoulder.

The 21-year-old first baseman will put off surgery to begin playing for the Angels' advanced rookie league team in Orem, Utah, this week. He will likely undergo surgery in September, a procedure that would sideline him for three to nine months.

"We wanted him to get acclimated to pro ball," General Manager Tony Reagins said. "We expect that he'll need surgery, but it's not 100% [certain] he will have to."

Cron, the son of former Angels first baseman Chris Cron, underwent an MRI test Monday and will be examined Tuesday by team physician Lewis Yocum.

"When I have to make a throw, it's a little bothersome — I'll have a sharp pain, then it will go away," Cron said. "But it doesn't affect me when I hit."

Cron, who wears a size-15 shoe, was among the best pure power hitters in the draft after leading the nation with an .804 slugging percentage.

Adjusting to wood bats shouldn't be a problem, "because my dad always made me swing wood in the cages, and I used them for two summers [in the Cape Cod League]," Cron said. "And the new aluminum bats we used [in college] aren't that much different."

Cron walked 31 times and struck out only 21 times in 198 at-bats this season.

"He has a great swing, the power is there," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "And he struck out only [21] times all season. For a guy with his ability to drive the ball, that's impressive."

On the mend

Hunter, who sat out the three-game weekend series against the Dodgers, took batting practice Monday for the first time since suffering a bruised rib when he crashed into the wall after making a catch in Florida on Wednesday night.

Hunter also threw at full strength, ran the bases at about 90% and did agility drills. He entered the game against the Washington Nationals on Monday as a defensive replacement in the top of the eighth inning.

Turf war

Scioscia said the field in Angel Stadium "is typically the most pristine in the league, it's almost impossible to find a bad hop anywhere," but that may not be the case this week.

After U2 concerts in the stadium June 17-18, the grounds crew replaced the entire playing surface, and it takes more than a week for the grass to settle.

"It's still good, but it's going to be a little rough," Scioscia said before Monday's game. "I don't think you'll see a multitude of bad hops, but there are more seams than usual until the grass grows in. It's playable, but it's not finished."

Short hops

New scouting director Ric Wilson, on why the Angels used 43 of 49 picks on the recent draft on college and community college players: "I thought we needed to get some depth in the system as quickly as we could. … Sunday's game against the Dodgers has been moved from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. to accommodate an ESPN telecast.

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