Angels' Cron Had To Lose To Get Ahead

LOS ANGELES—It's not so much the 100 that first baseman C.J. Cron has, as the 25 he lost that might make his season a success in the eyes of the Angels' new hierarchy.

The Angels' first-round pick (17th overall) out of Utah in 2011, Cron had a successful debut at Rookie-level Orem last year, batting .308/.371/.629 with 13 home runs in 34 games before a knee injury ended his season.

Cron, 22, has bounced back from that knee surgery (and persistent shoulder issues that will eventually require surgery as well) to hit .286/.322/.490 with 20 home runs in 455 at-bats at high Class A Inland Empire. He became the first player at any level of the minors (or majors) to reach 100 RBIs this season, driving in 101 in his first 102 games in the Cal League. The franchise record of 123 RBIs (set by former Dodgers prospect Chin-Feng Chen in 1999) was well within sight.

"Everything's been going well," Cron said. "I'm a middle-of-the-order guy. (Driving in runs) is what I'm supposed to do."

But more important was Cron's reaction to a spring conversation with Angels assistant general manager Scott Servais who took over the Angels' player development this year with Jerry Dipoto's arrival as GM.

"Going to spring training, coming off knee surgery, I had gotten out of shape and they noticed that," Cron said. "I guess it was a bad first impression . . . I lost about 20, 25 pounds since spring training.

"(Servais) basically told me the shape I was in, I wouldn't be able to advance very far in this game."

With his knee healthy, the 6-foot-4 Cron took that advice to heart and responded. Now he can focus on the other steps in his development, Dipoto said.

"There are other areas of his game (other than driving in runs) that he is focused on improving and will have to improve in order to progress toward the major leagues as a middle-of-the-order type," Dipoto said.

Angel Food

• The Angels traded two starters from the Double-A Arkansas rotation (Johnny Hellweg, Ariel Pena) to the Brewers for Zack Greinke. The domino effect of that trade meant a promotion from Inland Empire to Arkansas for lefthander Nick Maronde. The third-round pick in 2011 went 3-1, 1.82 in 10 starts wrapped around a long DL stint.

• The Angels' first pick in 2005 (37th overall), righthander Trevor Bell was released from Triple-A Salt Lake in late July. Bell, 25, had a record of 4-8, 5.21 in a series of callups to the Angels from 2009-11.