Cron was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 44th round (1320th overall) of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft, but he did not sign, opting to attend college. Cron attended the University of Utah, where he played college baseball for the Utah Utes baseball team. In 2009, he was named a second Team College Freshman All-American and Mountain West Conference (MWC) Freshman of the Year. In 2010, he was named a third Team College All-American, MWC All-Star and MWC Player of the Year. In 2011, Cron led the nation in on-base plus slugging (OPS) (1.320) and slugging percentage, for which he was named a Baseball America All-American. The Angels selected Cron in the first round (17th overall) of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft. He made his professional debut that season with the Rookie-level Orem Owlz of the Pioneer League.