Cronenworth, who's slashing .367/.460/.511 at Triple-A Durham, is being converted to a two-way player and fired a scoreless first inning as the opener for the Bulls on Saturday, Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports.
If there's anything the premium prospect is incapable of accomplishing on a baseball field, it apparently remains a mystery. With Cronenworth already knocking the cover off the ball at the level closest to the majors, the Rays want to see if the 2015 seventh-round pick's vast physical skills and college pitching experience help him turn into a viable component of their organizational pitching arsenal. Manager Kevin Cash stated Sunday that the 25-year-old has been prepping for his new endeavor by throwing live batting practices and bullpen sessions the past several weeks. Cash added that Cronenworth's fastball consistently registered in the mid-90s mph on the radar gun during his one frame Saturday, lending some credence to the notion he could contribute as a legitimate two-way threat moving forward.
Cronenworth is hitting .467 with four strikeouts, two walks and five steals through 45 at-bats with Triple-A Durham.
The 25-year-old infielder has primarily played shortstop, but has also seen time at third base and second base in the early going. The Rays have so many young, talented infielders that it will be tricky for any prospect to break into the mix without a slew of injuries, but Cronenworth, a seventh-round pick in 2015, is doing his best to force the issue.
Cronenworth went 2-for-2 with a triple, a solo home run and two runs overall in a 17-15 Grapefruit League loss to the Orioles on Saturday.
The 25-year-old shortstop entered the game for Daniel Robertson in the top of the sixth, ripping his run-scoring three-bagger in his first at-bat before bringing the Rays to within one with his eighth-inning solo blast. Cronenworth is now hitting .357 overall across 14 spring at-bats, and he's likely headed to Triple-A Durham to open the season. Cronenworth got his first taste of game action at that level late last season, slashing .240/.269/.360 across a modest sample of 26 plate appearances. The shortstop position at the big-league level is in the capable hands of Willy Adames, so Cronenworth doesn't presently have a clear path to the majors.
Cronenworth was reassigned to minor-league camp Saturday, J. Scott Butherus of MLB.com reports.
The 24-year-old shortstop was hitless in 11 spring at-bats, although he did score twice. Cronenworth slashed a solid .285/.363/.342 across 179 plate appearances at Double-A Montgomery in 2017, and he should be back there to begin 2018. He has flashed next to no power in his pro career thus far, but he's hit between .268 and .322 in four of five stops and generated a career-best 10.6 percent strikeout rate with the Biscuits last season.
Cronenworth's hitting streak for High-A Charlotte, which dates back to the tail end of last season, is now at 20 games, making him the 11th player in Rays organization history to reach that mark, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Cronenworth has now matched Rays stalwart Carl Crawford's best hitting streak and is eight games behind Aubrey Huff's franchise-record 28-game tear. The 23-year-old shortstop is slashing .397/.506/.521 over 87 plate appearances with three doubles, three triples, 14 walks, four stolen bases and 19 runs. The 2015 seventh-round pick entered the season with a .285 average over his first two minor-league campaigns, including a .322 mark in 81 games at Low-A Bowling Green last season.
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