Last fall, Red Sox prospect Garin Cecchini had reason to be optimistic. Third base had been an inconsistent positon for the team in 2014, with Will Middlebrooks, Xander Bogearts, and Brock Holt playing there at times. But there was really no regular third-sacker.
A Louisiana native, Cecchini comes from a baseball family. His brother Gavin is a promising shortstop in the Mets organization. His father is a long time high school baseball coach. The 23-year-old lefty hitter, was signed out of high school in the 2010 draft. There has never been any doubt about his hitting potential. Making stops at Short-Season Class A Lowell, Class A Greenville, Class A-plus Salem, and Double-A Portland, he compiled a .314 overall average with an OPS that peaked at .915 in 2013. His power numbers were a bit erratic, but he did average 51 rbi’s. Cecchini also showed base-stealing ability in the low minors, though this seemed to fade as he advanced.
Like many young players, he struggled a bit in AAA, slumping to .263/.341/.371 in 2014, the lowest of his career. He briefly came up to the Sox, but was sent down after 11 games despite some stong “slash” stats. After returning to the minors, he averaged .357 in his last 30 contests at Pawtucket. For those of you interested in betting on baseball, Cecchini, is certainly a player to watch.
The situation changed for Cecchini when the Sox signed Pablo Sandoval to a 5-year, $95 million contract in November. “Suddenly”, wrote Peter Abraham, “a 250-pound former World Series MVP was blocking Cecchini’s path to the majors.” However, he was far from discouraged. “I take it as a positive for my career,” he was quoted as saying….It’s easy to say ‘where’s my spot?’ but I can’t worry about that . You have to create your own opportunity.”
Although Garin will probably start 2015 at Pawtucket, the future is not lost for him. Sandoval is 5 years older, and one wonders what his weight-which will probably continue around its present level-will mean in the long run
Neither Sandoval nor Cecchini are particlularly great fielders (their Range Factor stats are pretty equal), but at 6’3″ and 220 pounds, Garin is obviously in better physical shape. SoxProspects.com says that he “gets by on instincts”, is “working hard to improve”, ” has a high baseball IQ” and can also play in left field. If Sandoval’s future will mean replacing David Ortiz at DH, the third base job will open up again.
Cecchini appears to have a place with the Sox. Maybe not this year or even next year, but the third base job many not be set for very long.