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(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake Bees' infielder C.J. Cron talks about his return to Utah during media day for the Salt Lake Bees baseball team, at Smith's Ballpark in Salt Lake City, Tuesday April 1, 2014.
Kragthorpe: Ex-Utes, Bees star C.J. Cron finding his power with L.A. Angels
First Published Jun 23 2014 08:31 am • Last Updated Jun 24 2014 04:37 pm

Now that C.J. Cron has homered in three straight games for the Los Angeles Angels, it seems funny to think that an apparent lack of power was his biggest issue coming into the 2014 season.

Having batted only once in the previous six games, the former University of Utah star took advantage of his opportunity to play this past weekend. The Angels released veteran Raul Ibanez, ensuring that Cron would remain on the roster, and Cron responded by homering in each game against Texas as the Angels swept the series.

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Cron’s flurry gave him six homers in 106 at-bats with the Angels, almost matching his performance with the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees to begin the season. His combined 2014 statistics include 12 homers in 219 at-bats — after he hit 14 homers in 519 at-bats while spending the full 2013 season with Double-A Arkansas.

"Power’s usually the last thing to develop," Bees manager Keith Johnnson said, prior to Cron’s Triple-A debut in April.

His display of power has reinforced that the theory that the Texas League is so pitcher-friendly that Cron’s 2013 stats were nothing to worry about — and that he can thrive in the big leagues.

Cron’s homer off Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish in Sunday’s 5-2 win was particularly meaningful. That should persuade Angels manager Mike Scioscia to keep Cron in the lineup against right-handed pitchers, after having platooned him with Ibanez as a designated hitter. Cron appears ready to handle that full-time role, while also making occasional starts at first base as the backup to Albert Pujols.

The Angels also recalled first baseman Efren Navarro from the Bees, giving Scioscia more options with his great defense and left-handed bat.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt




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