Image credit: Randal Grichuk #15 of the Colorado Rockies celebrates in the dugout after hitting a fourth inning solo home run in a game against the Oakland Athletics at Coors Field on July 28, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
The Angels continued their deadline buildup on Sunday by acquiring a pair of their former first-round picks.
The Angels acquired first baseman C.J. Cron and outfielder Randal Grichuk from the Rockies in exchange for pitching prospects Jake Madden and Mason Albright.
Grichuk was the Angels’ top pick in the 2009 draft—taken one pick before Mike Trout—and Cron was their 2011 first-rounder. The Angels traded Grichuk to the Cardinals before he ever played a game for them, while Cron spent the 2014-17 seasons with them.
Madden was the Angels No. 21 prospect and Albright was their No. 28 prospect.
Jake Madden, RHP
The Angels’ fourth-round pick in 2022 out of Northwest Florida State JC, Madden has posted poor numbers but shown intriguing stuff and projection in his first full season this year. He went 2-6, 5.40 with 66 strikeouts and 39 walks in 64.1 innings (14 starts) for Low-A Inland Empire. Madden is a tall righthander, has a loose, projectable 6-foot-6 frame and growing stuff. His fastball sits 92-94 mph and touches 96 with heavy arm-side bore. His best pitch is an above-average power slider that sweeps across the zone before dropping with late vertical break to get swings and misses. He also has a below-average changeup he’ll mix in against lefties, but it’s not effective and they hit him hard (.282/.417/.506 this season). Madden pitches exclusively from the stretch and has an effortful delivery that yields below-average control. He projects to be a two-pitch reliever who can dominate with his slider out of the bullpen.
Mason Albright, LHP
The Angels drafted Albright in the 12th round out of IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) HS in 2021 and signed him for $1,247,500, a record bonus for a player drafted outside of the top 10 rounds. Albright lost his fastball deception and control in his first full season and got pounded, but he tightened up his arm action and re-emerged a vastly improved pitcher this year. He went 9-4, 3.62 with 86 strikeouts and 20 walks in 79.2 innings for Low-A Inland Empire and led the California League with a 1.23 WHIP. Albright is a strong, square lefthander with a four-pitch mix he throws for strikes. His fastball sits at 90-92 mph, touches 94 and plays up a tick out of his low arm slot. His best pitch is an above-average mid-70s breaking ball that sweeps across the zone, and he has added a short cutter that plays well against righthanded batters. He also shows feel for a low-80s changeup. Beyond his pure stuff, Albright has shown impressive pitch efficiency and durability at a young age. He’s completed seven innings in nine of his 15 starts and has a 67% strike percentage, one of the highest in the league. Albright’s four-pitch mix and advanced control give him a chance to be a back-of-the-rotation starter, although he’ll need to add more power to his stuff as he matures.
C.J. Cron, 1B
Cron returns to Anaheim and gives the Angels a needed power boost in light of their injuries. He hit at least 25 home runs every full season from 2018-2022 and was batting .259/.300/.473 with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs in 55 games for the Rockies this year. He missed more than a month with back spasms but has been on fire since he returned from the IL, batting .319/.347/.565 with five homers in 19 games. Cron gives the Angels a true everyday first baseman and a premier power threat, both of which they need. The Angels have used 11 different players at first base this season. With Mike Trout, Taylor Ward and Brandon Drury all injured, there are only three healthy players in their lineup with more than 10 home runs this season (Shohei Ohtani, Hunter Renfroe, Mickey Moniak). Cron will immediately take over as the Angels’ first baseman and join the middle of their lineup. He is signed through the end of this season and will be a free agent at the end of the year.
Randal Grichuk, OF
Grichuk fills a need for the Angels after Ward was hit by a pitch in the face on Sunday and placed on the 60-day injured list with facial fractures. The 10-year veteran hit .312/.367/.502 with eight home runs and 27 RBIs in 63 games for the Rockies after missing the start of the season recovering from sports hernia surgery. Grichuk remains an aggressive hitter who rarely walks and is prone to strikeouts, but he has power and is a roughly average defender in the outfield corners. He will take over as the Angels’ starting left fielder following Ward’s injury and will be a free agent after the season.