As baseball awaits for a potential return, rule changes to Major League Baseball could benefit Reno Aces slugging first baseman Kevin Cron.
The MLB and MLB Players Association have discussed a bevy of changes to the shortened 2020 season during the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest proposal includes adding the designated hitter to the National League and expanding from a 40-man roster to a 50-man roster, to ensure teams have enough players for the season.
If the recent proposal comes to fruition, Cron can take full advantage following his torrid 2019 offensive campaign. Cron, 27, led the minors with 39 home runs last season. His .777 slugging percentage was the highest mark in MiLB history in 40 years. He also drove-in a career-best 107 RBIs to earn his second Pacific Coast League All-Star appearance.
In just two seasons with Triple-A Reno, Cron is first in Aces franchise history with homers (60), third in RBIs (199) and sixth in walks (97).
Cron carries plenty of power at the plate that can be utilized with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The designated hitter addition gives Arizona flexibility to hone in on his strengths, where Cron uses his 6-foot-5, 245-pound frame to lift fastballs and hanging off-speed pitches out of the park.
Cron made his MLB debut against the San Francisco Giants on May 24. He batted .206 with six homers and 16 RBIs in 39 games with the Dbacks. Cron made strides in the big leagues, but Arizona’s loaded infield didn’t offer many at-bats for the young slugger.
First base was primarily occupied by former Ace and 2017 PCL MVP Christian Walker, who hit a career-high 29 homers in 152 games. Third baseman Eduardo Escobar launched 35 homers with 118 RBIs, which was tied for fifth in the league.
To add more difficulty, former 2017 All-Star Jake Lamb totaled 34 starts at third base and 19 at first base. Cron has a strong arm and had 57 starts at third base with Triple-A Reno in 2018, but his size and frame made for a smoother transition to first base. As a result, Cron logged 61 starts at first base with the Aces and seven with the Dbacks last season.
Despite the obstacles, Cron has a chance to make an immediate impact with the new proposed MLB changes. A designated hitter spot gives him a premium spot to focus on his several skills at the plate while adding more at-bats to his big league resumé. Cron can expect to make the expanded 50-man roster and build upon his bright future.
Covid-19 has taken sports away in the blink of an eye, but baseball’s potential return and new league changes offered a silver lining for Reno’s powerful offensive force.
— Isaiah Burrows