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Draft Prospects You Should Know: Matt Cronin, Arkansas LHRP

This major league-ready lefty has been lights-out as a Razorback

Quick draw: Cronin is an ideal third- or fourth-round pick for a team in need of relief, fast.
@mg_cronin/Twitter

When you have the No. 3 overall pick, it’s never too soon to take a quick peek into this year’s MLB draft. This year’s draft class is loaded with excellent hitting prospects, but is relatively weak on the pitching side.

Draft Prospects You Should Know is a new series that features prospects who the White Sox could pursue in this year’s draft. As the June draft nears, we’ll return to many of these athletes and provide updates on whether their stocks are rising (or falling).

Age listed as of Day One of the Draft (June 3).


Matt Cronin
University of Arkansas
Left-Handed Relief Pitcher
Age 21
Bats Left
Throws Left

Rankings

Baseball America 52
MLB N/A
FanGraphs N/A

Cronin, a native of Navarre, Fla., is likely to be one of the top relievers to be selected in this year’s MLB draft. He’s been a fixture in the Razorbacks bullpen ever since he arrived as a freshman, and has been the team’s closer since his sophomore campaign in 2018. Here are his results through March 9:

2017: 15 G, 0 GS, 2.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 1 SV, .141 OBA, 18 IP, 8 H, 12 BB, 31 Ks
2018: 25 G, 0 GS, 3.54 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 14 SV, .154 OBA, 48 IP, 25 H, 14 BB, 59 Ks
2019: 4 G, 0 GS, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3 SV, .143 OBA, 5 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 9 Ks

Those stats are quite impressive. Cronin’s big issue during his freshman year was his control, but it seems he’s gotten that issue fixed. If you’re a reliever who can throw strikes, limit teams to a .150 OBA or below, and fan batters at a rate of 12.55 per nine innings, you may just have a future in the professional ranks.

According to 2080 Baseball, Cronin’s fastball presently peaks at 95 mph, but generally runs in the low-to-mid 90s, while his curveball typically runs 77-79 mph. While it’s just a two-pitch repertoire, Cronin gets by due to a deceptive delivery and good speed variance between his fastball and curveball. Baseball America noted, which you’ll see in the video below, that Cronin features a high-effort delivery with significant recoil. It’s that combination of delivery and limited repertoire that will likely relegate Cronin to bullpen duties at the professional level. But with such a low OBA, Cronin gets the job done against both righties and lefties, so he shouldn’t be a LOOGY going forward.

Cronin (6´2´´, 190 pounds) doesn’t have a build like Andrew Miller. However, if one likes results and a bulldog mentality as a set-up man or closer, Cronin could well be the best man for the job in this upcoming draft. A ranking of 52nd overall by Baseball America seems awfully high, however, as relievers don’t get typically selected until the third or fourth rounds at the earliest. If the White Sox grab him in either of those rounds, they could get a high-impact reliever who could be major league-ready relatively soon.

Here’s a video of Cronin pitching against USC on February 23, courtesy of 2080 Baseball:


Previously, on Draft Prospects You Should Know

Jason Hodges, Marist (Ill.) H.S. OF-1B
Jack Leiter, Delbarton (N.J.) H.S. RHSP
Matt Wallner, Southern Miss OF
Tyler Dyson, Florida RHSP
Rece Hinds, IMG Baseball Academy (Fla.) 3B
Daniel Espino, Georgia Premier Academy RHSP
Quinn Priester, Cary-Grove (Ill.) H.S. RHSP