Angels first base prospect C.J. Cron, called up from triple-A Salt Lake on Saturday, didn’t come across as a nervous rookie who was about to make his major league debut against the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.
“He seemed real confident coming in,” Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick said. “When he got here today, he was ready to play. You can tell when guys have that quiet confidence.”
Garrett Richards could see it, too, even though as the starting pitcher Saturday night, the right-hander got to the clubhouse a little later than his teammates.
“This kid is fearless, man,” Richards said. “I didn’t see any timidness whatsoever.”
Cron’s aggressiveness showed when he lashed the first major league pitch he saw into left field for a run-scoring single in the first inning. He lined a double to right-center field in third and hit a broken-bat, run-scoring single to left field in the sixth to end a 3-3 tie and propel the Angels toward a 5-3 victory.
Manager Mike Scioscia showed enough confidence in the 24-year-old slugger to give him the green light on a 3-and-0 pitch from setup man Alexi Ogando in the eighth inning.
Though the at-bat ended with a fielder’s choice grounder, Cron, who was born in Fullerton and is the son of former Angels infielder Chris Cron, was credited with a game-winning RBI and got a Gatorade bath from another C.J. — pitcher C.J. Wilson — during an on-field postgame interview.
“It was unbelievable, man,” Cron said. “Every baseball player’s dream is to be on this stage, and just being to help the team win is an awesome feeling. There were some nerves, but once that first pitch was thrown, I calmed down a bit.”
Cron, a first-round pick out of the University of Utah in 2011, hit .293 with 27 home runs and 123 RBIs for Class-A Inland Empire in 2012 and .274 with 14 home runs and 83 RBIs in 134 games for double-A Arkansas in 2013.
He had a strong Arizona Fall League season, played some winter ball in the Dominical Republic and hit .292 with a home run and six RBIs in 12 spring-training games before being sent to minor league camp. He hit .319 with six home runs and 26 RBIs in 28 games at Salt Lake.
“C.J. has great offensive potential,” Scioscia said. “You could see this coming for a while. He the ball well last year at double A, had an incredible fall league, swung the bat well this spring and was ripping it up in triple A. He puts that bat on the ball, especially in RBI situations.”