Kevin Cron Joins ‘From Phenom To The Farm’: Episode 100


Image credit: Kevin Cron (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)

Fresh off setting the Arizona high school career (60) and single season (27) records for home runs, first baseman Kevin Cron had a plan for his post-high school playing days—and that plan wasn’t going to college. 

Whereas most high schoolers aren’t well versed on the realities of professional baseball, Cron was raised in the pro ranks. His father, Chris, a former big leaguer, is a longtime minor league manager, giving Kevin and older brother (veteran big league first baseman C.J.) a firsthand look at life on the road to the show during their upbringing. 

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Both Cron brothers entered the 2011 draft as top prospects, C.J. as a slam-dunk first-round pick after a standout junior season at Utah, and Kevin as a top-three round talent, albeit with a perceived strong commitment to TCU he’d need to be bought out of—something that, in retrospect, turned out to be easier said than done. 

“In hindsight, probably could’ve done a better job of portraying to teams how interested in pro ball I was,” said Cron. “Our mentality going into it was we want a team’s best offer, and we’ll make a decision based off of that.”

The Mariners selected Kevin in the third round, but after the organization broke the bank to sign No. 2 overall pick Danny Hultzen, there wasn’t quite as much left over to convince Cron not to head to Fort Worth. Negotiations went down to the wire, with Seattle pressing their draft choice to give in and name his price. 

“I made up a number on the spot, and gave it to them,” said Cron. “They came back with a little bit less than that, and said, ‘Well, what about this number?’ And I said, ‘I literally just told you I’m not taking a penny less if I gave you a number.’” 

Cron stuck to his word, and spurned the Mariners for the Horned Frogs, intending on turning in three standout years and then cashing in as a junior. His freshman year went to plan, starting all 43 of TCU’s games en-route to second-team Freshman All-American honors on a TCU team that went to Super Regionals. 

His 2013 sophomore year was a step backward for both Cron and the Frogs. His offensive numbers declined on a TCU team that failed to make the postseason. Struggling with failure in the box for the first time, Cron pressed all season, trying to fight his way back to his lofty projected 2014 draft status.

“I just gotta have a big weekend this weekend and then I’m right back in it, I’ll live up to all this expectation I have for myself,” said Cron. “It was the first time I got caught up in all that.”

Cron rebounded as a junior, pacing TCU in home runs and doubles and leading the team to the 2014 College World Series. Back in the draft again three years later, Cron’s high school prestige had lost its shine, and he slipped to the 14th round, getting taken by the D-backs.

From the jump, Cron responded to life as a professional just like he’d planned on as a senior in high school. The wood bats, training philosophies and comfort of minor league baseball agreed with his game.

“It is as familiar as I thought it would be,” said Cron. “It is the same as when I would bat boy for my dad when I was five years old. I understand this game and I know what it takes.”

He hit his way to Double-A by his second full season, and won league MVP in his second year in the Southern League. Cron mashed upon reaching Triple-A Reno in 2018, and in 2019 was among Pacific Coast League leaders in most offensive categories by the time the D-backs brought him to the big leagues in May of that season. It was later than he’d planned and on a different path than he’d planned, but Cron was a big leaguer, just like he’d planned. 

Cron played sporadically with Arizona in the 2019 and shortened 2020 season. Staring down life as a 4-A player sitting behind Christian Walker in the D-backs organization, he took an opportunity to improve his financial standing by playing in Japan in 2021 and Korea in 2022, recouping the financial earnings he’d passed up by choosing not to sign with Seattle out of high school. 

He returned to affiliated baseball with Oakland in 2023, but after an early-season release, Cron realized it was finally time for a different plan, this time working in player representation. 

 “I just said, what is the realistic way I can get my family to that next threshold—am I going to change my family’s life by maybe getting to the big leagues a couple months a year?” said Cron. “I didn’t see opportunity meeting ability for that anymore, so I’m going to move into the next thing to change my family’s life.”

On the latest episode of ‘From Phenom to the Farm,’ former big league first baseman Kevin Cron walks through his record-breaking high school career, a trip to the College World Series and life hitting his way through the minors.

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