From the moment Matt Cronin took the mound at Arkansas, he was too good as a reliever to go into the rotation. He saved a school-record 14 games as a sophomore and added 12 more as a junior, prompting the Nationals to take him in the fourth round of the 2019 draft.
Cronin, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound lefthander, continued his success after signing. At low Class A Hagerstown, the 22-year-old allowed a .153 opponent average and amassed 41 strikeouts in 22 innings. He also had a save and posted an 0.82 ERA.
“Matt came as advertised by our scouts,” farm director Mark Scialabba said. “He’s fearless and aggressive. He challenges hitters with his riding fastball and has a potential wipeout pitch in his downer curveball. He’s a power pitcher who loves to finish games.”
In college, Cronin threw his 91-96 mph fastball about 90 percent of the time. With the Suns, he said that number decreased to 75 percent while he mixed in a curveball 25 percent of the time. He also worked on a changeup in instructional league.
After a high school career that included a junior season where Cronin led the state of Florida with 143 strikeouts in 68.2 innings for Navarre High, he joined the Razorbacks’ loaded pitching staff. He tallied one save as a freshman and then served as the closer on two teams that reached the College World Series.
Wes Johnson, the Twins’ pitching coach, was the Arkansas pitching coach for Cronin’s first two seasons there and worked extensively with Cronin.
“We had a really good bond, and he pushed me to be a better player,” Cronin said.
After three years of dominating for a Southeastern Conference power, Cronin felt prepared for pro ball.
“When you’re playing in front of 5,000-10,000 fans in the SEC, it’s quite an experience,” Cronin said. “Now it feels like less pressure than the SEC. It’s really just about how you develop and what you’re working on that week.”
— Mark Butler, principal owner of Double-A Harrisburg since February 2015, died at age 61 of natural causes. He was the CEO and a founder of Ollie’s Bargain Outlet. “We are just numb,” Senators president Kevin Kulp said. “This is a tragic loss for our community. Mark was such an important part of the culture of our organization.”
— Brad Holman, the former pitching coach at Triple-A Fresno, was named the organization’s new minor league pitching coordinator. He takes the role previously held by Paul Menhart, who will remain the Nationals’ pitching coach after serving in an interim capacity during the team’s World Series run.