The Boston Red Sox recently had six players named to MLB.com’s list of the top 100 prospects in baseball for 2013. Although he wasn’t one of those recognized, third baseman Garin Cecchini is a prime candidate to be Boston’s breakout prospect this season.
Cecchini has had a long road to get where he is, but it looks like it’s all starting to finally come together.
As a high school junior, he was considered one of the top young players in the country. Unfortunately, he tore an ACL during the spring of his senior year and tumbled down the draft board.
The Red Sox took a gamble and snatched up Cecchini in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. They lured him away from a scholarship with LSU by giving him a $1.31 million signing bonus, of which he immediately made a sizable donation to the Boston-area charity, the Jimmy Fund.
Cecchini told ESPNBoston’s Mike Andrews that being drafted by the Red Sox was what he considered a best-case scenario:
It was so surreal. I really couldn't believe it. I was hoping to get drafted by a team that could compete for a championship every year. When I heard my name called, I immediately looked up and there was a Red Sox logo right next to it! It was a dream come true. I mean, who wouldn’t want to play for this organization?
The left-handed hitting Cecchini made his professional debut in 2011 with the short-season Lowell Spinners, hitting .298 with three home runs, 12 stolen bases and 23 RBI in 32 games. However, a fractured wrist forced him to miss the second half of the season.
Instead of packing it up and going home, Cecchini remained with the team for the remainder of the season and learned a valuable lesson, as he told The Boston Globe’s Craig Forde. “To come to the field last year every day with a positive attitude, thinking about others before yourself, that was the best thing that I could have done to the help the team. It’s the least that I could have done.”
Cecchini was finally healthy in 2012, and proved why the Red Sox are so high on him as a prospect.
He appeared in 118 games with Single-A Greenville, hitting .305 with four home runs, 62 RBI and 51 stolen bases in 57 attempts. He also had 38 doubles and four triples, indicating that he could develop more power as he continues honing his skills
He is listed at 6’2” and 200 pounds, which is a classic power hitter frame. Power can be one of the last skills developed by young players, so his lack of homers so far is no reason for immediate concern.
About to turn 22, Cecchini has started to accumulate recognition from prospect talent evaluators.
Baseball America’s Jim Shonerd wrote that Cecchini’s “hit tool is advanced for his age.” He also commended his improved defense and ability on the basepaths, despite lacking top-end speed.
SoxProspects.com has projected Cecchini’s ceiling as an “All Star caliber third baseman.”
WEEI’s Alex Speier saw Cecchini play a late-season game this past year and came away impressed with what he saw:
Cecchini wrapped up a season in which he continued to show an advanced offensive approach, made considerable defensive strides at third base and demonstrated an ability to impact the game on the bases. Despite limited power number, he showed the ability to be a well-rounded player who grades out as above-average in a number of facets of the game.
Because of his limited playing time in the minors, Cecchini is probably not a serious candidate to reach the majors until at least 2014. Although the Red Sox already have a talented young third baseman in Will Middlebrooks, having depth at the position is a good problem to have.
Cecchini may not have an open spot waiting for him in Boston in the near future, but such situations have a way of working themselves out.
The Red Sox want talented young players, and if Cecchini proves to be worthy of an eventual call-up, they will find a place for him to play.
Right now the youngster needs to play and continue developing his all-around game. If he can do that in 2013, he could very well be Boston’s top candidate for this year’s breakout prospect.
Statistics via BaseballReference