It didn’t really come down to a specific choice between the two sports for Cronenworth. He played both in high school, enjoying them each so much that it wasn’t until his junior year that he decided to stick with baseball in college at the University of Michigan.
The multi-sport athlete was versatile on the diamond as well, playing infield, outfield and touching the mid-90s as a reliever. The Tampa Bay Rays picked him in the seventh round — 208th overall — in the 2015 MLB Draft. At Triple-A Durham in 2019, Cronenworth hit .334 and had a 2.45 ERA in seven appearances. The Rays traded him to the Padres following that season.
Even when he left college to play baseball for a few years in Ann Arbor, Cronenworth, now 27, didn’t hang up his hockey skates for good. A local arena held open ice time Mondays and Wednesdays, so he took full advantage of the chance to get on the ice again.
“It was always fun to get out there and skate a little hard and train the legs in a different way than you would in the weight room,” Cronenworth said. “And I obviously love playing hockey, too, so that was the best part.”
Hockey and baseball are certainly different sports, but there are some skills that Cronenworth learned and adapted in each. One thing he learned was “taking that hockey mentality to baseball,” Cronenworth said. Baseball is a slower game with a lot of sitting around in between innings, for instance, whereas hockey is more of a “go, go, go mindset.” Bringing that mentality over helped Cronenworth with hitting and pitching in baseball.