TEMPE, Ariz. -- Ever since first baseman C.J. Cron was taken 17th overall in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, representing the Angels' most recent first-round pick, the question has always been how he'd ever find a spot on the big league club. The Angels had Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales back then, and shortly thereafter, they signed Albert Pujols to a 10-year contract.
Now, it seems, there could be a path developing for Cron.
Trumbo and Morales are gone, and if the right-handed slugger has a good year at Triple-A Salt Lake, it's very conceivable to picture him helping the Angels down the stretch in 2014, as a right-handed option at designated hitter and perhaps an occasional fill-in at first base.
"Baseball has a weird way of working itself out usually, so if you play to your capabilities, you'll find a spot somewhere," said Cron, ranked second in the Angels' system by MLB.com in 2013. "With the moves they've made this offseason, it opens the door a little bit. But at the same time, it's not handed to me. I still have to go out there and show them that I can do it. Whenever they think my time is, I'll be ready for it."
As Cron pointed out, this is the first time in three years he hasn't had an offseason of rehab. Two years ago, he was coming off knee surgery. Last year, he was coming off shoulder surgery.
Cron, now 24, struggled at times in his first season of Double-A, posting a .274/.319/.428 slash line with 14 homers and 83 RBIs amid the big parks of the Texas League. But he torched the Arizona Fall League, with a 1.167 OPS in 20 games, and then went right into his first winter ball experience in the Dominican Republic.
"I had a pretty good end of Double-A playoffs, and I kind of wanted to continue what I did there in the Fall League and I thought that everything just seemed to go well for me," Cron said. "I got good pitches to hit, I wasn't missing any good pitches, I was putting good swings on the ball and they were finding holes."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.