MP grad C.J. Cron begins pro career in Pioneer League - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Sports

MP grad C.J. Cron begins pro career in Pioneer League

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Posted: Friday, July 8, 2011 4:00 pm | Updated: 12:32 pm, Tue Jan 31, 2012.

Apparently good impressions are not hard to come by for C.J. Cron.

First, he took batting practice with the big-league club and wowed the Los Angeles Angels players. Then he made his professional debut with the Orem Owlz of the Pioneer League and everyone came away with the same response.

The 2008 Mountain Pointe graduate has had quite the whirlwind of a month after being selected by the Angels as the 17th overall pick on June 6.

After signing his contract with the Angels, who included a $1.467 million signing bonus, Cron hit several long home runs at Angels Stadium while the current Los Angeles players looked on.

It prompted Torii Hunter, the Angels right fielder, to quip to the Los Angeles Times: "It's not quite (Angels slugger Mark) Trumbo pop, but close. "And he still has milk behind the ears. Wait until he gets his man muscles."

Then a few days later, in his debut in rookie league action, Cron had the game-winning hit for the Owlz in a 6-4 win over Ogden.

"It's obviously going to take some time to get back in the groove," he told the Desert News. "I was a little off, but I think I was seeing the ball come out of the pitcher's hand pretty well."

The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder has continued to stay hot despite divulging the fact that he had a torn labrum in his right (throwing) shoulder, limiting him to a designated hitter role until he has surgery in September.

"Me and the Angels had talks about it, and I knew that was what I was going to do the day I got drafted," Cron said.

Through his first five games, Cron hit .381 (8 for 21) with six runs, a double, two home runs and five RBIs. He had a .417 on-base percentage and a .817 slugging percentage for a robust 1.214 OPS.

"As much as health dictates, he'll be out there, but just like anyone else, he needs to go to the bullpen and get the timing down with real pitchers, not just batting practice," his manager Tom Kotchman told the Desert News.

The fact that he ended up in Utah where he spent his college career made the transition easier for the two-time All-American at Utah.

"When I came to Utah and met Coach K, I fell in love with the place," said Cron, who had a .396 batting average, 46 home runs, 198 RBIs and a .713 slugging percentage in his three years at Utah.

His manager said it is clear that he got a first-round pick without some of the baggage and attitude that can come with a big signing bonus.

"It's not something I have to worry about with him," Kotchman said. "He's not a big fanfare guy. He's a true professional before he got to be a professional."

While a great start has been fun, Cron, who didn't return several attempts to reach him, still has some development and hard times ahead.

"He just needs to get stronger, and as they say, you've got to take steps and then you can run," Kotchman said.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com

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Jason P. Skoda
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