.339/.437/.800. That’s Kevin Cron’s line in Triple-A Reno this season. Take a moment to admire it. He led all of affiliated baseball with 21 homers and 62 RBI at the time of call up. Cron has always had some thump in the bat, but there were some doubts that it was good enough to cover up some other deficiencies in his game, but the entire offensive package has taken a step forward in 2019. He was regarded as having plus raw power last season when he put up a .245 ISO in Triple-A with 22 homers in 104 games. He’s already hit 21 this year in the same park in just 44 games, good for a .461 ISO. Let’s dig a bit deeper here.
Kevin Cron didn’t make either of our top 100 lists or the fantasy top 300 list entering 2019. Cron was number one on our flyball distance leaderboard for the month of April. He was our 19th ranked Diamondbacks Top 30 this winter.
Defense (40 field/50 arm): Cron actually played more third base than first in 2018, but the Paul Goldschmidt trade and subsequent Christian Walker promotion has shifted Cron back to first base in Reno this season. He’s never going to be an asset defensively due to his size (6-foot-5, 245 points) and limited range but if he hits like this who cares.
Hit (55 present/55 future): It’s a difficult task to assign a hit tool grade to someone as dominant as Cron has been thus far in 2019, but here we are. He has walked at a strong 13.6 percent clip while only striking out under 17 percent of the time. He uses all fields and is driving the ball with authority. I had some concerns entering the season that the 26-year-old was a tweener, meaning that there were some questions about the defense at third forcing him to first where he might not hit well enough. He’s grown as a hitter and I’m confident that the hit tool is above average presently. He’s always murdered lefties and he’s slugged .518, .598 and .667 against them the last three seasons. He’s hitting .352/.442/.807 against righties so far while at Triple-A, so expect some major regression there.
Power (60 game/70 raw): Cron’s batted ball data is a thing of beauty. He’s hitting the ball in the air at elite levels. Seventy-seven percent of all of Cron’s batted balls are either line drives or fly balls, and he leads all of Minor League Baseball in average flyball distance, which obviously pairs nicely with his favorable batted ball mix. He’s a strong kid capable of hitting 30+ homers with a full-time chance.
Speed (30 present/20 future): He’s more athletic than his brother C.J., but you aren’t drafting him for his speed. One or two stolen bases at most here.
Prediction: If there was a Minor League Baseball MVP award so far, Cron is the runaway winner after what he’s done in just 44 games this season. In addition to the numbers Cron has drawn positive reviews for his makeup and work ethic, which isn’t a surprise considering his family’s strong baseball roots. In fact, his father is actually the manager of the Reno Aces so he was able to break the news to Kevin about the call up. I’m concerned with the Diamondbacks announcing that their intention is for Cron to be a bat off the bench and continue to play Christian Walker as the everyday first baseman, but if Cron hits like he’s shown the ability to do thus far that job is his before long. The upside here is something like what Luke Voit did in the second half for the Yankees last season. You need to pick up Cron despite the limited initial role. The upside is significant.