The Angels used their top draft pick on a college player for the first time since they took Jered Weaver out of Long Beach State seven years ago.
With the No. 17 overall pick Monday, the Angels took Utah first baseman C.J. Cron, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound right-handed hitter who batted .435 with 15 home runs and 59 RBIs. The Angels don't pick again until Tuesday. This draft is being orchestrated by first-year scouting direct Ric Wilson. The team fired Eddie Bane, who typically drafted high-school players, after last season.
Cron is the son of ex-major league infielder Chris Cron, who played six games for the Angels in 1991. In 2009, Cron was the only player in the nation who managed to get three hits in one game off Stephen Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick that June.
Cron, 21, played all season for Utah with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, an injury that will require surgery before he begins his professional career. Cron said he expected to sign "very quickly."
The Angels were hoping to inject more power into the organization, but first base wasn't exactly a position of immediate need, with Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales each under club control for several seasons to come. Chris Cron also was drafted by the Angels.
"I heard my dad was a pretty good player. He played behind Wally Joyner," Cron said.
Wilson ran into Cron and the Utes baseball team while waiting for a delayed flight at Dallas-Forth Worth airport earlier this year.
"I thought that was probably a sign," Wilson said.
ESPN.com baseball analyst Keith Law predicted Cron would go No. 24 overall. Here's the scouting report on the big first baseman:
In a year when many top hitting prospects are struggling to adjust to the new bats in college baseball, C.J. Cron has elevated his draft stock by mashing to the point where teams are even overlooking the significant injury concerns involved.
Cron has easy right-handed power, something in high demand in scouting circles these days, with upper body strength and good hip rotation; his plate discipline is solid. His catching days are probably over due to damage in his right shoulder, although he didn't project to remain at the position anyway. He'll end up at first base or possibly as a DH, but there's enough bat there to see him drafted in the top two rounds, with 30-homer power if his hit tool holds up against better pitching.