If by some Freaky Friday magical happening, I were to be installed over GM Mike Haze for the coming season, Kevin Cron is the guy I’d want seeing extended playing time at first.
Kevin Cron isn’t likely to see a majority of the playing time at first this season because, as things stand today, he’s probably third in line behind Jake Lamb and Candidate #4. Still, he’s the most intriguing to me because he is the most likely to turn into something a real value.
Furthermore, this is his window. The younger brother new Minnesota Twin C.J. Cron, Kevin is the same type of player and likely to face similar scrutiny. Kevin will be 26 by opening day, and that means he’s not the upper end of prospect status. With a solid year in 2018, he may still fetch something of value in return as a highly-affordable option entering his age 27 season, and that stands no matter where his success comes, but it will mean the most at the major league level.
Besides, fans like young players and there’s a certain any value to a rebuilding season, it’s that fans get to dream uninhibited about how good these (mostly-not good) young players might be.
Last season was Cron’s first in Triple A, but he stuck there the whole season and looked pretty good, managing to hit .309/.368/.554 in the highest level of the minors. His hit over 20 homers for the fourth consecutive season while adding 97 RBIs (to only 57 runs scored).
His contact skills aren’t great, though his walk rates have gone up to respectable levels the last two seasons, 9.5 BB% his second time through Double A in 2017, and 8.2 BB% in Triple A last year. He managed identical strikeout records both years (22.8 K%).
His power, however, is fairly undeniable, as he’s recorded an ISO over .200 at every stop of his professional career, including .245 ISO last year. He is as ready as he’s gonna get, and there won’t be a more forgiving environment to get 400 at bats than with next year’s Diamondbacks.
It would be great to restore Lamb’s value, but Cron will garner more in a trade if he can duplicate anything close to his Triple A numbers at the ML level next year. At the very least, he should be the right-handed compliment in a platoon situation at first with Lamb, but I’d want to see him get more run than that.