As a teacher, I am always looking for better ways to evaluate my students. This allows me to get to know my students better and how I can improve as a teacher in helping them to reach their full potential. As a fantasy baseball manager, I go through the same process when assessing players, trying to figure out how to best evaluate each individual in hopes that my time put in will help lead to my (or your) team reaching their potential and delivering a fantasy championship.
I have created a simplistic new process for evaluating prospects. I am still tinkering with the process while trying to come up with the best methodology to indicate the value of prospects for future fantasy purposes. I have chosen 10 of the most important attributes that should help to indicate what a prospect’s future might hold. Prospects are ranked on a scale of 1-10 by their qualities for each aspect, accumulating in a final prospect grade.
*Note: Grades are based on what prospects can bring to the table from the current position they are projected to play in the major leagues. Example: A catcher or first baseman might rank higher in the speed department than an outfielder with the same stolen base potential, because a C or 1B that can deliver 10 to 15 stolen bases a year is more challenging to find than an OF capable of producing the same SB totals.
Without further ado, let’s find out if C.J. Cron makes the grade…
1) Baseball IQ –C.J. is son to former major leaguer Chris Cron, who currently coaches in the Tigers’ minor league system. C.J.’s brother, Kevin, was also selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 2011 MLB Draft. Ballplayers with a family history in the game tend to display a high baseball IQ, and C.J. is no different. Rating: 10 out of 10.
2) Batting-Eye – This 1B prospect has the pitch recognition and plate discipline that should allow him to be successful at the major league level. Cron has the eye at the plate to hit for a high average and decent power once he settles into the major league lineup. Rating: 9 out of 10.
3) Hit-Tool – "He’s got phenomenal hand-eye coordination; how he does it is amazing," said Bobby Scales, the Angels’ director of player personnel. "He doesn’t strike out a lot. He doesn’t walk a lot. He seems to hit everything.” The walks are the only thing holding him back here. Rating: 8 out of 10.
4) Power – After displaying his impressive power potential with 27 bombs in High-A during the 2012 season, Cron followed that performance up with 14 HR’s in Double-A in 2013. John Sickels noted that those numbers actually aren’t very different when you adjust for league context. He has true 80-grade power. Rating: 10 out of 10.
5) Speed – The 235 pound first baseman isn’t known for having base-stealing speed. However, Cron was able to total 8 SB’s in Double-A last year. Cron could chip in a few unexpected SB’s each year from a position low on stolen base output. Rating: 6 out of 10.
6) Body –The first baseman is listed at 6’4” and 235 pounds. We have seen similar big-bodies 1B (see: Prince Fielder) have success in the big leagues. How Cron controls his weight during the next few years will dictate how long of a career and how successful he can be in the majors. Rating: 6 out of 10.
7) Durability – Cron underwent knee surgery in 2011, and had shoulder surgery during the past season. Both times, he proved his durability by returning strong while suffering no setbacks. Although his body size could prove to be challenging to keep healthy as he ages. Rating: 7 out of 10.
8) Ceiling –If the prospect can make the proper adjustments in the near future, we could be looking at a 1B capable of producing a high batting average to go with 25 to 30 homeruns on an annual basis. The main factors holding this prospect back seem to be his walk rate and body size. Rating: 8 out of 10.
9) Floor – If those adjustments aren’t made soon, Cron could have trouble hitting for a high enough batting average for the Angels to feel comfortable giving him every day at-bats. A batting average near the Mendoza line would kill his future fantasy value. Rating: 6 out of 10.
10) Future – After spending the year in Double-A, Cron could be ready to try his hand at the highest level of the minors. An injury to Albert Pujols, or the need to move him to DH, could provide an opening for this 24 year-old to make his way to the majors soon. Hopefully, he will settle in as a 25 HR a year bat with a decent batting average in the near future. Rating: 8 out of 10.
Overall Grade: 80% - B-
Future Outlook: I have always been amazed by players with a family background in the game and how they tend to demonstrate an amazing baseball IQ. For that reason, they generally tend to outperform what is expected of them. C.J. had a stellar 2012 campaign, amassing 27 HR’s and 127 RBI’s while batting .293. He then went on to hit .274 with 18 HR’s and 83 RBI’s in 2013, which was still good enough to earn a trip to the Future’s Game. The Angels sent Cron to the Arizona Fall League, where he raked and would have won the MVP if it were not for Kris Bryant’s stellar performance. This 23 year-old should be ready to make his major league debut shortly. With the recent trade of Mark Trumbo, Cron’s path to the majors has become more evident. If Albert Pujol’s sustains another injury, or is moved to DH on a more full-time basis, Cron would most likely become the major benefactor.