ANAHEIM -- Having agreed to terms with the Angels as their first-round choice in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, C.J. Cron got familiar with the ballpark he hopes to call home soon with an early batting practice session on Monday at Angel Stadium. The former University of Utah slugger hopes to put on a uniform for Orem, about a 40-minute drive from his home, this week. This is contingent on getting clearance from Dr. Lewis Yocum, the team orthopedist, during a physical exam on Tuesday. Cron said he plans to sign the contract after the physical. Cron will have an MRI on his right shoulder, having played through some pain at Utah while putting up impressive numbers as a hitter who, according to Angels scouting director Ric Wilson, "combines power with the ability to hit for average."
Asked about the shoulder, Cron said it didn't bother him while he was swinging the bat but did at times defensively. "When I have to make a throw," he said, "there's a sharp pain. Then it will go away." The Angels would like him to "get his feet wet" at rookie ball Orem, Wilson said, even if it means spending considerable time as a designated hitter. Cron, 21, was a two-time All-America and back-to-back Mountain West Conference Player of the Year for the Utes, as well as a 2011 Golden Spikes semifinalist. As a junior this season, he batted 434 with 26 doubles, 15 homers 59 RBIs in 49 games. He was ninth in the nation in on-base percentage at .517 while finishing third in average. He reached base in all but one game, putting together a 70-game streak of reaching base. "I'm a contact guy," Cron said, "but if I get a pitch to hit, I have the ability to drive the ball with power." A 6-foot-4, 230-pound athlete with size-15 cleats, Cron is the son of a ballplayer. Chris Cron made his Major League debut with the Angels in 1991 and went on to become a manager. He now leads Detroit's Double-A affiliate, the Erie SeaWolves. One of Cron's college achievements came when he became the only hitter to collect three hits against Stephen Strasburg, the No. 1 pick in the nation, in 2009 by the Nationals. "It was pretty awesome," Cron said of meeting such Angels as Torii Hunter, Bobby Wilson and Mark Trumbo. He also could have been referring to Trumbo's power display in batting practice. The first baseman launched one about three-quarters up the rock pile in left-center, the longest shot some Angels personnel have seen at the park. Trumbo, whose longest estimated homer this season was 471 feet in Kansas City, plays the same position as Cron but also has the ability to roam the outfield. Trumbo has been impressive in limited opportunities in right. The Angels will be creative enough to make room for both of them in the lineup if Cron eventually figures out Major League pitching anything close to the way he handled college arms.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.