Reno Aces infielder Kevin Cron brought his big-league eye back to the Biggest Little City.
Optioned back to Reno from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday, June 22, Cron went 0-for-4 with a walk in an 8-6 loss to the Albuquerque Isotopes on Sunday at Greater Nevada Field . He drew three walks on Saturday night.
Cron, 26, hit .213 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 23 games with Arizona this season.
Back in an Aces uniform, Cron displayed some patience at the plate in four plate appearances.
He faced Albuquerque starting pitcher Kyle Freeland for two at-bats. Freeland started 12 games for the Isotopes’ big-league club, the Colorado Rockies this season.
Freeland forced Cron to make weak contact on a cutter at the hands for a double play in the first inning.
Cron battled with the southpaw during his second at-bat, drawing a nine-pitch walk to load the bases in the third inning.
The duel came to a sudden halt when Freeland was ejected by first base umpire Paul Clemons with two outs in the third inning. He surrendered five earned runs in 2.2 innings.
Against Isotopes reliever Nelson Gonzalez, Cron grounded into another double play in the fourth inning. He struck out looking in the seventh.
Cron worked the count full as the final out in the ninth inning and struck out swinging to end the contest.
Before his call-up to Arizona, Cron led the minor leagues with 21 home runs. His 62 RBIs ranked first in the Pacific Coast League. Even in his absence, Cron still leads the team in batting average (.329), home runs, RBIs and OPS (1.128).
A right-handed batter, Cron is best suited for hitting fastballs high and inside the zone, where he uses his 6-foot-5, 245-pound frame to generate most of his power. His swing has a lot of moving parts, his right elbow sticks straight out to complement a low leg kick up to the numbers of his uniform. Once Cron sees a suitable pitch, his quick hands immediately make hard contact to lift the ball in the air – and often out of the ballpark.
The slugger doesn’t aim for the fences at hitter-friendly Greater Nevada Field. Cron has settled for an opposite-field grounder down the first base line on multiple occasions.
“It gives me that flexibility,” he told Tahoe Onstage earlier this season. “Being able to drive the ball to all sides gives yourself an opportunity to be off and still give yourself a chance to make something happen.”
Cron split time at first base with former 2017 Pacific Coast League MVP Christian Walker. He’ll get all the at-bats he can handle in Reno.
“He’s in such a different situation,” Aces manager Chris Cron said. “Coming off the bench is extremely difficult to do at times. He’s just never done it before. … But he’s shown he’s capable of being a guy the Diamondbacks can rely on. Now he’s just going to come back down here and playing every day to get comfortable of swinging the bat the way we know he can.”
Defensively, Cron got the start at third base on Sunday. He started 13 games at third base and 32 games at first. His bulky 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame is more suited for first.
“I still think he’s an above-average first baseman. I think the organization feels that same way,” Chris Cron said. “But the versatility of playing third base and adding that to his resume will be very valuable.”
With his first taste of the majors under his belt, Cron may not be at Greater Nevada Field for much longer.
Mathisen’s grand slam not enough in Aces’ loss
Second baseman Wyatt Mathisen went 1-for-3 with a grand slam for his 17th home run on the season, but the Aces fell just short.
Tied 6-6 heading into the ninth, Albuquerque scored two runs to steal the fourth game of the five-game series. The loss snapped three-straight wins for Reno.
Mathisen, 25, has nine home runs and 22 RBIs in the month of June. His bases-clearing blast gave the Aces a 6-4 in the third inning.
Reno had seven hits. Carlos Asuaje laced a pinch-hit leadoff double in the ninth. Abraham Almonte and Andy Young each had two hits. Yasmany Tomás had one RBI.
Aces’ starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco walked the first batter of the ball game before exiting with an apparent injury. Anthony Vasquez came in relief, giving up three earned runs in 5.2 innings. Jimmie Sherfy was tagged with the loss after giving up two runs in the final frame.
The Isotopes led 4-1 after the first inning. Mathisen’s grand slam capped-off a five-run third inning. Albuquerque plated two runs in the sixth and two more in the ninth.
Notes: In 756 regular season games at Greater Nevada Field, the Aces have recorded just three 1-0 victories in Reno. That equates to 0.4 percent. Last night was the first 1-0 Aces win since May 1, 2016 also against the Isotopes. Reno is 7-16 when facing left-handed starting pitchers this season. … The Aces are 3-2 over their last five games.
On Deck: Reno, 32-43, face Albuquerque for the final game of the five-game series at Greater Nevada Field. Matt Koch is expected to take the hill for the Aces. Tim Melville is the probable starting pitcher for the Isotopes.