So much for the sophomore jinx.
Mountain Pointe graduate C.J. Cron had what would be a career season for some players as a freshman at the University of Utah last year.
He had a .418 batting average with 14 home runs and 54 RBIs, was named the Mountain West Conference Freshman Player of the Year as well as a Baseball America All-American and was the only player in the country to get three hits in a game off Stephen Strasburg, the No. 1 pick in last year’s Major League Baseball Amateur draft.
The Collegiate Baseball newspaper announced late last week that Cron was also one of 17 players nationally to be selected as a first team Louisville Slugger All-American.
His is also a semifinalist for the Dick Howser trophy that goes to the top player in collegiate baseball.
When a lot of college players can slide into a normal statistical slump their second year, Cron just got better.
Rotating between catcher, first base and designated hitter this spring, Cron hit .431, had 20 home runs and drove in 81 runs this season, according to University of Utah statistics.
That earned him the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year award. He was also named to the conference first team utility player and has slammed 31 home runs and driven in 139 runs during his two-year collegiate career at Utah.
“Individual success always comes from the team” Cron said. “I couldn’t have done any of that without the guys hitting in front of me and the guys hitting behind me.”
His baseball savvy comes from playing as a freshman at Utah as well as Little League in the Ahwatukee Foothills area, Mountain Pointe and spending summers close to his father, Chris, who is a Major League player with the Angels and the White Sox before becoming a minor league manager with the White Sox organization.
“I think the experience I gained from my freshman year contributed to this,” Cron said “I had a year under my belt when I saw some college pitching, and it all clicked for me this year.”
Utah coach Bill Kinneberg, who coached with Cron’s father, said his sophomore is “probably the smartest player on the field.”
But Cron’s 43 games with the Utes didn’t give him a chance to see his “‘little” brother, Kevin, play at Mountain Pointe this season when the Pride made it to the state championship game.
The younger Cron hit a state record-tying 22 home runs this season.
“I haven’t been able to see him play this year because I haven’t been home,” C.J. said, “but I hear he was crushing the ball.”
The Ute’s (25-18) missed out on the MCW league title, losing to Texas Christian University and Brigham Young University.
Cron batted .667 during the tournament with eight RBIs and went 4-for-5 against BYU with two home runs and a double.
But Cron’s season didn’t end there.
He has been invited to try out for a spot on the USA Baseball Collegiate team and was packing late last week for a summer in New England where he will be playing in the Cape Cod Baseball League, one of the country’s premier collegiate summer programs.
“I love to play baseball,” he said, “so I’m going to take advantage of every opportunity I get. It’s a great sport, and I’m having a lot of fun.”