Owlz's Cron smacks three homers

Angels first-rounder making transition to pro ball look easy

C.J. Cron has seven homers in his last 10 games. (Boyd Ivey/Orem Owlz)

By Ashley Marshall / Special to MLB.com | August 2, 2011 8:51 PM

C.J. Cron is barely a month into his professional career, but he's already making history in the Pioneer League.

The Angels' first-round pick slugged a pair of solo shots and a two-run blast for the first three-homer game in team history Tuesday as the Rookie-level Orem Owlz cruised to an 8-3 victory over the Ogden Raptors.

"It's a pretty special feeling. It's my first three-home run game ever, so it's definitely memorable," said Cron, who also doubled in his second straight four-RBI game. "I felt great out there and I was actually squaring a few balls up. I hit them well and they went out."

The 21-year-old designated hitter pulled a leadoff homer to left field in the second inning, then went the other way to right with two out in the third to make it 2-0. In the fifth, he cleared the fence in left-center, the deepest part of Lindquist Field.

"I was leading off the [second] inning, so I knew I was getting a first-pitch fastball," the Arizona native said. "It was a little bit up in the zone and I hit it well. Then the second home run came with two outs and no one on, so I knew they were going to challenge me. [Derek Cone] fell behind 2-0 and he came with a fastball that I was able to hit out to right field."

After smacking fastballs out of the park in his first two at-bats, Cron knew to look for something soft when he stepped in to face Cone for the third time.

"I knew that because I hit the other home runs on two fastballs I was going to get an off-speed pitch the next time," he said. "He threw me a 1-0 curveball and I was waiting on it. I've basically been using the whole field my whole life. I've been doing it a long time."

Cron grounded out in the sixth and laced a one-out double to right in the eighth. Off the bat, he thought he might be circling the bases for the fourth time.

"My teammates were making sure the chance for [a fourth homer] didn't leave my head," the University of Utah product said. "I saw a few good pitches in my fourth at-bat that I should have hit hard. And then in the eighth inning I hit a ball off the right-field wall. I thought it had a chance, especially with the wind blowing out that way, but I settled for a double."

The three-homer performance tied the league record and was the first since Missoula's Eric Groff accomplished the feat in an 8-6 victory over the Owlz on July 16, 2010.

Cron leads the league with 11 homers and has seven in his last nine games, despite playing the entire season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

"My shoulder has been feeling good, but I haven't thrown since I've been here," said Cron, selected 17th overall in June. "Right before the first game, I had an MRI on it because it was too painful to catch and the doctor said I had a torn labrum. The way it's looking, I may still need surgery this year, but I'm taking it day by day.

"I would much prefer to play in the field, but it is not my choice. Between a new bat and the switch to DH, it's been a tough transition from college. But thankfully, I'm showing that I can still hit."

Cron's offense proved more than enough for southpaw Nick Maronde (1-0), who recorded his first win since the Angels took him in the third round of the Draft. He allowed a hit and a walk while striking out four over shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 1.04. The University of Florida product has not given up more than one run in any of his first five starts.

Cone (0-2) took the loss after surrendering seven runs on seven hits and four walks with three strikeouts over 4 1/3 frames.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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