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If you made it big in the restaurant business, you got a Chef’s Table.

At Fantasy Alarm we have one too. Expect here you don’t need a reservation. Or a fat stack to pay for it.

The best part about the Chef’s Table is that you get to watch the preparation of your food from start to finish. Seeing every intricate detail that goes into your dish while enjoying the company of family and friends. Well, that’s what I’m gonna give you here.

Each week I will profile a player based on increased street cred throughout the industry.  Whether because of a recent hot streak, increased playing time or a promotion because of an injury. From there I will break down the recipe for that player’s success and determine if he is just a flash in the pan or someone who is gonna bring home the bacon.

Today’s Special: C.J. Cron

We see prospects get promoted to the big leagues all the time. Some succeed and some don’t. The Angels have recently promoted their top hitting prospect, C.J. Cron, and he has been nothing but impress in the early going. He has started off his big league career by going 11-for-28 (.393 BA) with five extra-base hits (2 HR) and six RBI over his first eight games, having now gone yard in back-to-back starts.

Prior to his promotion from Triple-A Salt Lake, Cron posted a slash line of .319/.369/.609 with 12 doubles, six homers and 26 RBI through 28 games forcing the hand of the Angels front office to make the move to add some more pop to the starting lineup. This coming after an incredible performance in this past year’s Arizona Fall League, which in case you don’t know, is the premier destination for upcoming talent once the minor league schedule comes to an end. While it is uncertain how long his stay with the Angles will be, he has sure made a case to remain a fixture in the starting lineup while continuing to tear the cover off the ball.

He is currently taking the spot of Raul Ibanez in the Angels starting lineup, after a miserable start to the season for the veteran lefty, logging just 14 hits through his first 101 at-bats (.139 BA) while striking out over 30 percent of the time. Although removing Ibanez’s bat from the lineup has made the Angels batting order right-hand heavy, the team can now utilize Cron at first base, freeing up Albert Pujols to serve as the team’s designated hitter to keep him fresh for the long run. Although everything seems to work out to the favor of the Angels there are still a few things that Cron will need to work on in order to stay up at this level.  

Since joining the Angels farm system back in 2011 Cron holds a 0.27 BB/K rate over 1403 minor league plate appearances, having failed to make improvements in that area over the course of first four years of professional baseball. Most youngsters struggle in that area of their game when promoted, so the fact that he already has five more strikeouts than walks through 28 at-bats shouldn’t be too alarming. Especially if you take into consideration he had just one minor league season in which he finished with a strikeout rate over 20 percent, and that was in a shortened rookie league season.

The problem is that he isn’t selective at the plate (74.5 percent Contact Rate), which will give the pitchers the upper hand once he starts logging more at-bats unless he starts to show more discipline at the plate. Again, the sample size is small, but his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is just south of .400 (.393 BABIP) over his first 141 at-bats between both levels, which is bound to take a hit as the season progresses.

There is also the Josh Hamilton factor to consider. Are the Angels going to want to have him in the outfield everyday once he returns from the disabled list? Probably not. But they will want his left-handed swing as an everyday fixture. And we all know Pujols isn’t going anywhere so that is out of the question. So is this hot-hitting first baseman worth the investment?

The Wrap-Up

There is no denying that Cron is off to a hot start and he will be a fixture in the lineup while he continues to fly high. I have to give it to him there. But at this current rate it is highly unlikely that his .393 average and .429 BABIP will be able to stick at the major league level without him being more selective at the plate. As mentioned earlier, this is a common problem for first-year players, but it has haunted him throughout his young career. Although he has yet to strikeout more than 83 times in a season, it is almost counterproductive to make that much contact while taking that few of free passes.

No matter how well Cron performs in the upcoming weeks, there is no way he will take at-bats away from Pujols. So his main competition is a soon-to-be 42-year-old Ibanez, who really has no business still being on a major league roster after a terrible start. As long as the Angles are comfortable keeping the often-injured Hamilton in the outfield, he should continue to get his at-bats, even if he doesn’t improve his plate discipline.

He is currently owned in less than 20 percent of fantasy leagues throughout the major providers (Yahoo!, ESPN, CBS) which is about right for a player with only 28 at-bats beyond the minor leagues and residing at a position full of power bats. However, it will be very difficult to look past him much longer if he continues to swing a hot bat. As long as he received regulat at-bats, there is no reason to think that he can’t reach the 20 home run plateau by season’s end, even when his AB/HR rate (14.0) takes a hit. Those is deep leagues will want to add him as soon as possible, especially if your team is lacking in both the home run and RBI categories. Just don’t buy-in to the high batting average. It is bound to start falling as his early season luck wears off.

Until next time, study hard and eat plenty!

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