Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cronin's versatility may earn him a spot on the Seals

While there are a number of Seals who are guaranteed to make the team out of spring training, I wouldn't be too comfortable right now if I were a returning player who could only play one position and posted marginal stats in 2009. Newcomer Shane Cronin has the ability to play first, third, catcher and outfield and that flexibility is incredibly important now that the GBL has eliminated the DH but left the roster size at 22 players (until August 15th).

Cronin is a 34-year-old native of Renton, Washington and he was a 32nd-round selection of the San Diego Padres in the 1996 amateur draft. He played seven different position in high school and five professionally (he even pitched in a pair of games in addition to the aforementioned positions), so he would be quite useful with the short bench in the Golden Baseball League. Offensively speaking, Cronin has decent power and would be classified as a contact hitter.

Cronin started his pro career in an impressive fashion. In 1996, he was named Arizona League MVP and the Topps Minor League Player of the Year after hitting .327 with 9 homers and 54 RBI in only 208 at-bats for the Arizona Padres. In 1997, he continued to impress in the Pioneer (Rookie) League, hitting .336. But after a promotion to the Clinton LumberKings of the Midwest League (A ball), he struggled mightily. Cronin hit only .239 in 230 at-bats in 1997 and then posted a .253 average in Clinton the following year. Considering his anemic .318 slugging percentage with the LumberKings as a first and third baseman, it wasn't a huge surprise when the Padres decided to released him.

Cronin went on to play in the Northern League in 1999 and 2000 and had some moderate success. He ended up getting signed by the New York Yankees as a catcher, but his offensive struggles continued in 2001 and 2002 and he was again released.

He went on to spend four years in the US Army and was stationed in Iraq for a year. After completing his military service, he spent 2008 and 2009 with the Chico Outlaws in the GBL. In 2008, he hit .294 with 9 homers and 30 RBIs in only 160 at-bats. Last year, his production dropped off slightly and he only hit .287 with 5 homers and 23 RBI in 164 at-bats. But when you consider catcher Matt Kavanaugh's .239 average and .321 slugging percentage in 2009, Cronin has a definite shot at making the Victoria Seals this season.

Seal Blubber Bits
  • Seals President Darren Parker joined play-by-play man Mike Walker in the broadcast booth on Wednesday night. The duo had good chemistry and were quite entertaining with their banter. In a lighter moment, Parker even offered up a positive review of the burgers at Norbrock Stadium in Kamloops.
  • You can listen to the broadcast of the second exhibition game between the Seals and Vipers on Thursday night on at 7 PM PST.
  • The Victoria Seals will receive a second player-to-be-named-later from the Calgary Vipers in return for loaning them Isaac Hess, Sergio Pedroza and Wilver Perez last season. The Vipers will be allowed to protect 15 players on their roster and then the Seals can pick any one of their remaining players. The Seals received the first player-to-be-named-later, Caonabo Cosme, from the Vipers in March but they turned around and dealt him back to Calgary in the Colin Moro deal.
  • The Seals will feature an inflatable pitching cage at Royal Athletic Park this season. Proceeds will go towards KidSport.
  • Darren Parker also announced that the sound system will be upgraded at RAP for the 2010 season.
  • Brandon Villafuerte has been named the Victoria Seals closer by pitching coach Kip Gross.
  • Steven Wright has impressed the Seals coaching staff so far in spring training, so it will be interesting to see if he can beat out Terrence McClain for the final starting outfield spot.