If third base prospect Garin Cecchini stays at his same 2013 pace, chances are we will see him in a Boston Red Sox uniform right around this year’s All-Star break. But let’s calm down the excitement, as it looks like Cecchini, who has never played a game in Triple A, will have to play the waiting game that most prospects in the system usually have to deal with.
Drafted in 2010 out of Lake Charles, LA and Barbe High School, Cecchini finally saw the strides the organization thought he make during his first full minor league season in 2012. Cecchini was nursing a torn ACL in his final season at Barbe and took a wild pitch of the wrist with the short-season Lowell Spinners the following year.
Finally healthy, the 6-foot-2, 200 pound former high school shortstop had a breakthrough year in 2012 for the low-A Greenville Drive, batting .305 and stealing 51 bases. Then, last year, the 22 year old tore up the Carolina League with high-A Salem hitting .350 with a .469 on-base percentage before getting promoted to Double-A Portland midseason, where his stats dipped but in any sort of dramatic fashion.
After a solid 2013, Cecchini had a strong offseason helping the Surprise Saguaros win the Arizona Fall League title and was a league All-Star, his third All-Star appearance of the year (Carolina League All-Star, All-Star Futures Game). Cecchini also took home more AFL hardware when he won the Stenson Award; the league’s sportsmanship award is named after former Red Sox farmhand Dernell Stenson, who was murdered while playing in the AFL in 2003.
This spring Cecchini, the 83rd best prospect in all of minor league baseball and 7th in the Red Sox system, will begin camp with the big leaguers after being named to the 40-man roster in November of last year. Cecchini will play much of 2014 in the minors, where he can suit up every day to work on his faults.
He is already admired for his smooth, upward, left-handed swing that uses the whole field and good plate discipline, but needs to improve his reaction time at the hot corner on defense and hitting breaking balls and adding power on offense. Cecchini only hit seven long-balls in 2013 and only stole 23 bases, down from the 51 a year before.
Cecchini’s speed is likely to come down as he fills out his frame, but his pop is expected to benefit from that. Chances are highly likely that he will be the Pawtucket Red Sox‘s third baseman on Opening Day, but if Stephen Drew does not re-sign, or injuries happen to Will Middlebrooks, Jonathan Herrera, or any other members of the big-club’s infield, don’t be surprised if Cecchini makes a jump reminiscent to Jackie Bradley Jr. in 2013. That means the Red Sox could have two rookies, Cecchini and prized-prospect Xander Bogaerts, starting the season as Boston’s left side of the infield, at least one year before the baseball ops team have that duo projected.