PHOENIX (ABC4 Sports) – C.J. Cron made some history Sunday, becoming the first University of Utah baseball player to be selected to play in the Major League All-Star Game.
Cron, who is still the only Utes player drafted in the first round, will represent the Colorado Rockies on the National League squad in the 92nd All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium on July 19. It will be Cron’s first Midsummer Classic, where he will play alongside one of his heroes, Albert Pujols.
“I was obviously drafted as a first baseman [in the first round in 2011 by the Angels], and the first offseason, they signed [Pujols] to a 10-year contract,” Cron said. “But also being a teammate and taking ground balls with one of the best to ever play the game, you learn so much from that. When they traded me to Tampa for my first time getting an opportunity, I’d just learned so much from him. I don’t know if I’d be here without the whole situation. So it all worked out perfectly.”
After four seasons with the Angels and one each with the Rays, Twins and Tigers, Cron signed with the Rockies on a Minor League deal before the 2021 season, but with an eye toward him becoming their regular first baseman.
Slowed by a back injury early last year, Cron ignited in the second half and finished with 28 home runs, a .905 OPS and a career-high .281 batting average. Colorado re-signed Cron for two years and $14.5 million, and he has responded by hitting .295 with team highs in home runs (20) and OPS (.901) in 84 games this season.
Cron had played in every game before sitting out Saturday and not starting Sunday with a left wrist contusion, the result of being hit by a pitch Friday night. He should return soon.
Cron, 32, has been the Rockies’ most consistent offensive performer. Kris Bryant missed much of the first half with a back injury. Brendan Rodgers and Charlie Blackmon have overcome slow starts and figure to help the rest of the year.
Cron insisted he had more on his mind than this midseason honor.
“I’m so focused at-bat to at-bat,” Cron said. “I just want to help the team win. I want to be productive in the middle of the order. I want to drive the ball and drive in runs. It’s been OK just to start the season. I can do a little bit better, still.”
Rockies manager Bud Black met Cron while working as a special assistant to the general manager with the Angels in 2015. Cron became available after the ‘20 season, when he sustained a left knee injury and was limited to 13 games for Detroit. Black pushed for Colorado to sign him.
“Other teams were on him, and there were other teams that were going to put him on the 40-man roster,” Black said. “I don’t know exactly how all those conversations went with other clubs, but he signed with us as a non-roster guy, being told that he was going to be given a really good chance to compete to be an everyday player, which is what he wanted. He’s followed up with performance.
“What he brings to the team is not only talent and performance, but a leadership quality that I’ve seen from him that maybe wasn’t there early in his career. He’s taken it upon himself as more of a veteran player to do that. It’s great to see those types of things.”
Cron was the 17th overall pick in the 2011 Major League draft. He was the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year, and led the nation in slugging percentage.
Cron also played for the Salt Lake Bees from 2014-2017.