Reno Aces first baseman Kevin Cron leaves teammates and coaches in awe of his ability at the plate.
“He’s one of the best hitters I’ve ever seen, and I’m not the only one who thinks that,” former Aces catcher Tyler Heinemann said. “You ask some of the guys and coaches and they say the same thing.”
“He’s got so much raw power,” Aces hitting coach Jason Camilli said. “I’ve been really impressed to see the way he battles each and every game.”
As the compliments keep coming, Cron keeps hitting. The 26-year-old is in the midst of a historic season.
Cron launched his 33rd homer on Aug. 11 against the Oklahoma City Dodgers, breaking the Aces single-season record previously set by current Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker.
Two days later, he blasted three more homers to break Reno’s franchise record of 58 career home runs in 172 games. He has 36 on the season.
“It’s a special feeling, ” he said. “Those accolades begin to stack on top of each other … It’s just been a pretty special year in general and the numbers keep coming. … I push myself to my full potential every single year.”
Rounding third and heading for home, Cron was unaware that his first inning homer broke the record. He was focused on more, blasting two solo shots in the fifth and seventh innings.
“I didn’t know about the career record until I got in the dugout,” he said. “(Aces hitting coach) Jason Camilli gave me a hug and congratulated me, so that was really cool.”
His 36 home runs and 95 RBIs lead the Pacific Coast League, and he’s hitting at a .322 clip. Cron is chasing a PCL record held since 2011, when Bryan LaHair blasted 38 homers with the Iowa Cubs.
With 19 games left in the regular season, two more round-trippers for Cron seems inevitable. He went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run in a 6-5 victory over the Sacramento River Cats on Thursday night at Greater Nevada Field.
“I’ve been able to play consistently,” he said. “It’s easy to fall off the wagon and try to change your approach when things aren’t going your way and I’ve put trust in the process each day and that goes a long way to stay in the moment.”
The slugging first baseman has his eyes set on some hardware, the 2019 PCL MVP. He would join Adam Eaton, Chris Owings and Walker players in Aces history to win the award.
Cron is well on his way to become the fourth member. He leads the PCL in slugging percentage (.837) and OPS (1.271) this season.
“Anytime you play something you want to be the best at it,” he said. “It’s one of those things if it happens, it happens. … If you’re a competitor, you want to be the best. If an MVP is in the cards, that would be great.”
Aces manager Chris Cron has joined the ride with his son. The skipper has a front-row view of Kevin’s development into a big-league prospect. Cron has played in 27 games with the Dbacks this season.
“It’s a father’s dream,” Chris Cron said earlier this season. “I’m not sure there are too many people in my situation and I’m very blessed he’s going toward the footsteps of playing this game. … Being able to watch your kid achieve his dream of making it to the big leagues is really special to me.”
Kevin Cron, meanwhile, has enjoyed having his father’s guidance.
“There’s not many people that can experience what we’re going through,” he said. “It’s been really special, from him telling me about my first call up to the records. I couldn’t have asked for more.”
Cron’s hot bat has helped thrust the Aces back into playoff contention. Reno is just seven games back of the Sacramento River Cats in the Pacific Northern Division.
Anything is possible when Cron is in the starting lineup.
“It’s still a long shot, but we have a chance,” he said. “We have to win games against the teams ahead of us, but there’s an opportunity for us to make something happen.”
Aces top River Cats 6-5
The Aces went out on a hot note during the final de la Diversion game of the season.
Los Corazones de Reno took game one of the crucial division series with timely hits and solid pitching down the stretch. The Aces are now six games behind Sacramento in the Pacific Coast League Pacific Northern Division.
Reno had six hits. Jamie Westbrook was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs. Ildemaro Vargas was 2-for-4 with one RBI. Alberto Rosario had two hits.
Aces starting pitcher struggled on the mound, giving up four earned runs on six hits in four innings. The bullpen locked the game down from there, as the trio of Joey Krehbiel, Damien Magnifico and Ben Taylor surrendered one run five innings.
The Aces jumped out to a 4-1 lead after two innings. Sacramento scored two runs in the third inning and one run apiece in the fourth and sixth to take the lead.
Westbrook’s two-run double in the seventh gave the Aces the lead and the bullpen locked it down from there.
Chris Cron was ejected for the fourth time this season after Ben DeLuzio was called out in the sixth inning
Duplantier, Crichton recalled to Dbacks: The Arizona Diamondbacks recalled pitchers Jon Duplantier and Stefan Crichton from Triple-A Reno on Thursday. Outfielder Tim Locastro was optioned to Triple-A Reno in a corresponding move.
Notes: The Aces had five double plays Tuesday night against the Oklahoma City Dodgers, tying a franchise record. … Kevin Ginkel earned his first MLB victory on Aug. 13, throwing two scoreless innings against the Colorado Rockies.
On Deck: Reno, 58-64, faces Sacramento for the second game of the four-game series at 7:05 p.m. at Greater Nevada Field. Taylor Clarke is expected to take the hill for the Aces. Conner Menez is the probable starting pitcher for the River Cats.