Draft | Top Prospects | 5/16/2011

50 in 50: C.J./Kevin Cron

Allan Simpson        
C.J. Cron
1B-C / Utah
Bats-Throws:                R-R
Height/Weight:             6-4/230
Hometown:                   Phoenix
Previously Drafted:       White Sox ’08 (44)
Birthdate:                     Jan. 5, 1990
Kevin Cron
C-1B / Mountain Pointe HS
Bats-Throws:                R-R
Height/Weight:             6-5/250
Hometown:                   Phoenix
College Commitment:  Texas Christian
Birthdate:                     Feb. 17, 1993
SCOUTING PROFILE: C.J. Cron and his younger brother Kevin are two peas in a pod in more ways than one. Beyond their obvious family connection, both players have remarkably similar track records and profiles—right down to the significant and disabling leg injuries they incurred last summer, which cost them valuable exposure in the scouting community. The Cron brothers are built along the same massive physical lines (C.J. is 6-4/230, Kevin is even bigger at 6-5/250) and the exceptional raw power they can generate with their big frames puts them among the elite home-run hitters in the 2011 draft class. Both have been catchers throughout most of their evolving careers, though they almost inevitably will end up at first base in professional baseball.
C.J. was primarily a catcher in his first two years of college at the University of Utah, but struggled to refine his receiving and blocking skills, and had difficulty staying on top of his throws consistently. In the wake of a partial tear in a knee ligament last summer, Cron’s full-time transition to first base this spring was a well-timed move as it has enabled him to concentrate mostly on hitting, and Cron has responded by becoming possibly the most-feared offensive player in this year’s college draft class. He led Utah in batting (.438), homers (14) and RBIs (55) through games of mid-May.
Kevin, meanwhile, was a catcher throughout his recently-completed career at Phoenix’ Mountain Pointe High (C.J.’s alma mater), and scouts say it is just a matter of time before he, too, makes a transition to first base. Though he has solid-average arm strength, he has a slow transfer and does not move especially well behind the plate. Like his older brother, Kevin is an offensive player, first and foremost, and systematically demolished Arizona prep home-run records this spring (plus some of C.J.’s old school records in the process). He finished with 27 homers on the season, easily topping the prior record of 22, set in 1999 by Desert Ridge High’s Corey Myers (the fourth overall pick in that year’s draft) and tied a year ago by Cron himself. He also hit 59 long balls over his career, 15 more than the old Arizona standard, and ended the 2011 season with a batting average near .600. For all of his prowess as a power threat, Cron was the winningest pitcher this season for Mountain Pointe. He out-dueled Gilbert High’s Stephen Tarpley, possibly the best high-school pitching prospect in Arizona for this year’s draft, by a 2-1 score in a playoff game with a fastball that topped out at 92 mph. He subsequently led his team to the state 5-A/Division I title by going all eight innings of a hard-fought, 7-6 win in the championship game. He struck out 14, but also went an uncharacteristic 0-for-4 in the game. Cron avenged his team’s loss in the final a year earlier, when he clubbed his then-record-tying 22nd home run, even as he played that game with an aggravating stress fracture in his left foot. Though he did not have to subsequently undergo surgery, he was forced to rehab the injury the remainder of the summer.
The same fate befell C.J., who injured his knee in the Cape Cod League, just as he was scheduled to join Team USA’s college national team.
Both brothers, who are the sons of former major leaguer Chris Cron, currently the manager of Double-A Erie in the Detroit Tigers system, have exceptional hands for hitting. Combined with sound hitting mechanics and their big frames, they can seriously juice balls. The two are distinct in their own ways as hitters, though, as C.J. is considered the better overall hitter of the two, while Kevin has greater natural raw power. C.J.’s swing is quick and powerful, and he has serious raw power to all fields, along with an acute sense of strike-zone discipline. Kevin also has easy raw power but it is more prolific. When Kevin gets ahold of his pitch, he is more likely to put more loft on the ball, and has cleared his share of light towers in his young career. C.J.’s power has more of a line-drive trajectory, but he is so strong that he can go deep to any part of the park. Both players are projected to be prominent picks in this year’s draft—C.J. is the top-rated college talent in Utah, Kevin the top-rated high-school player in Arizona—but the elder Cron stands the better shot of going in the first round. Kevin’s draft stock may be suppressed a bit because his signability could be a little trickier. He’s a solid student (3.96 GPA) with a scholarship offer to Texas Christian. With his family’s background in the game, plus his brother’s progression from a 44th-rounder in 2008 to potential first-rounder this year after three prolific seasons in college, he may be in no hurry to begin his professional career. Regardless of when Kevin signs, though, either now or in three years, the Cron brothers could become one of the most prolific brother acts of the draft era.
Projected Draft Position: C.J. / Mid-to-late first round; Kevin / Second to third round.
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