On Dec. 10, 2013, the Los Angeles Angels sent fan favorite outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago, two much-needed young starting pitchers. Though this was a blow to the hometown fans, it was a trade that had to be made as the Angels are in dire need to get younger especially in their staring rotation. In trading away the 28-year-old outfielder the Angels lose 30 home runs and 100 RBI from their offense. In an attempt to replace some of that production the Angels signed veteran designated hitter Raul Ibanez. The 42-year-old Ibanez is coming off of a 29 home run campaign with the Seattle Mariners in 2013, but 24 of those came in the first half of the season.
So what is the Angels’ plan to replace the offensive production left behind by the departed Trumbo? The Angels do not have a great farm system; this is one of the reasons the team had to trade Trumbo. The lack of top talent in the minor leagues makes it difficult to replace major league talent that leaves via free agency or trade. The Angels do have one big power bat in their lower level system in first baseman C.J. Cron.
Christopher John Cron was the Angels’ first-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. He is the son of former Angels first baseman Chris Cron. The big right-hander (6-foot-4, 235-pounds) hit 27 home runs and drove in 123 runs in his first full season in A ball in 2012. Cron was quickly bumped to AA last season where his numbers looked a little more pedestrian against better competition. Cron still showed some of that power, hitting 36 doubles and 14 home runs, but he struggled against some of the better arms at that level. Cron was sent to the Arizona Fall League this offseason to work on some things. While honing his skills in Arizona, Cron hit .413 with a .700 slugging percentage and 1.167 OPS . He hit five home runs and six doubles in 20 games, continuing to show the power that the Angels so desperately need from their former first-round pick.
If Cron can get off to a good start at AAA in 2014 and prove that he can handle pitching at the next level, he could be a mid-season call-up and see himself playing in Anaheim as early as this season. If Ibanez has another good first half of the season, Cron could be the answer to the second half. The hope is that Cron, Skaggs and Santiago can help the fans forget about Mark Trumbo.