Red Sox have versatile infield prospect in Cecchini
Left-handed-hitting third baseman impresses with mechanics, approach at plate
Red Sox third-base prospect Garin Cecchini had a tremendous career as a high school student/athlete at Alfred M. Barbe High School in Lake Charles, La. He played both second base and shortstop.
Cecchini hit .402 with six home runs and 43 RBIs as a junior. He also stole 53 bases, showing the speed that would help establish his credentials as an outstanding prospect. As a senior, Cecchini tore his anterior cruciate ligament, but he finished the year hitting .545 at shortstop.
With a very well-defined hitting tool, outstanding speed, and a very strong and accurate throwing arm, Cecchini had planned to attend Louisiana State University. Instead of going to college, he was available for the Red Sox to select him in the fourth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. Cecchini is No. 7 on Boston's Top 20 Prospect list.
Cecchini is from a baseball family. His older brother, Gavin, was a first-round selection of the New York Mets in 2012. Their dad, Glenn, was their high school baseball coach.
Cecchini played well in his rookie season at Lowell in the Class A Short-Season New York-Penn League. He hit .298 with three homers and 23 RBIs in 133 plate appearances. He stole 12 bases.
Cecchini followed that with a season at Class A Greenville in the South Atlantic League. He hit .305 in 526 plate appearances, smacking 38 doubles and four triples in 118 games. Cecchini stole 51 bases and was caught stealing just six times.
Cecchini's outstanding hitting continued this past season at two classifications in the Red Sox's system. At Class A Advanced Salem, he hit .350 in 63 games. Cecchini was promoted to Double-A Portland in June. He hit .296 against the advanced pitching, to end the year with a combined .322 batting average.
Cecchini, a left-handed hitter, is a well-proportioned athlete at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds. He has wide shoulders and a broad chest with strength in his entire body. Cecchini uses that strength in his sound hitting mechanics.
I saw Cecchini play third base in this past fall's Arizona Fall League. Using a widely-spread stance with his back foot covering the back line of the batter's box, he uses a very sound weight shift to generate power from his trunk to his wrists. Cecchini has a very slight leg lift in a short stride to the ball.
Cecchini hit .277 with no homers and nine RBIs in Arizona. He stole three bases and was caught stealing twice.
Cecchini showed patience at the plate with good pitch recognition. His plate discipline yielded 17 walks, a high mark in a league where hitters tend to swing away. Cecchini struck out 14 times in 65 at-bats.
To date, Cecchini has not shown power as a component of his game. However, at age 22, his power will likely emerge as his development program continues. Even though I don't think home run power will be a major factor of Cecchini's ultimate game, I do think he will hit plenty of gap doubles and his share of triples by using his level swing and outstanding speed.
Cecchini has baseball instincts that serve his speed well. In addition to stealing bases well, he will use that speed to motor around the bases, taking liberties on outfield arms and stretching his gap hits by a base or two.
Defensively, I found Cecchini to be average at third base. His footwork looks a bit awkward and he gets a bit of a late jump on balls at times. Cecchini will continue to improve the longer he plays the position and the more he sees ground balls hit to both sides. His arm strength is a real plus throwing from third to first.
Overall, Cecchini's quick bat speed and line-drive hitting approach along with his good foot speed will carry him to Major League success.
Cecchini's solid baseball mechanics coupled with his sound knowledge of the game are important components of his composite projection. He should be a fine Major League quality player, with a top-of-the-batting-order profile.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.