In one glorious game in early June, Garin Cecchini got a fleeting taste of major league fame. He went one for two with a double against Tampa on June 1st, his only appearance in Boston. Although Cecchini was sent back down to Pawtucket, he appeared to be on a fast track to the majors, a serious candidate to be the Red Sox third baseman of the future. He hit .322 in the minors in 2013, and he started off 2014 in Pawtucket by hitting .312 in April with an OBP of .400. However, after his moment in the Fenway sun, Garin forgot how to hit minor league pitching, proceeding to hit .197 in June and July.
In August, Garin has regained his swing with a line of .316/.361/.509, along with two homers and five doubles. After this torrid streak, he will absolutely merit a call-up on September 1. And with Will Middlebrooks coming down with his monthly case of hamstring soreness last night, there may be an opening at third base. Cecchini is 23 and in his fourth year of professional baseball, so the time is ripe to see what he can do at the highest level. SoxProspects.com gives him a “ceiling of an All-Star caliber third baseman.” Aside from a midseason slump this year, Garin has certainly shown this sort of potential.
Third base has been an incredibly fluid position for the Sox this year, and the future at the hot corner remains uncertain. Will Middlebrooks is running out of chances to prove himself, both in his ability to hit and his capacity to stay healthy. He’s currently listed as day-to-day after coming out of last night’s game with hamstring soreness. Even if he avoids the DL, Will needs to show something spectacular in the last month to warrant being the opening day starter in 2015—hitting .188 with two homers is about 27 steps short of spectacular. Brock Holt certainly deserves an opportunity to start next year, and with an overload of outfielders once Allen Craig and Shane Victorino return from injury, third base may be the long-term spot for him. And BSI editor Conor Duffy recently pointed out a few free agent options that the Sox could pursue, such as Pablo Sandoval and Aramis Ramirez.
Then there’s Cecchini, who remains a bit of an unknown as he has yet to face major league pitching. As has become customary with Red Sox infield prospects, Cecchini has also made a few starts in the outfield to increase his flexibility. But unless the Sox make some trades, it’s hard to envision Cecchini as a long-term outfielder. With Ben Cherington’s recent admission that he is “open” to trading prospects in the offseason (per Jason Mastrodonato), Cecchini could be on the move himself. Whether the Sox want to use Cecchini as part of their own future or as a trade chip, it makes sense to see what he can do at the major league level. If he continues this hot streak after being called up to Boston (and I’m optimistic that he will), Garin will increase his value both to the Sox and potential trading partners.
Cecchini’s call-up is a matter of when, not if. With the PawSox in line for a playoff berth, the Red Sox may keep him in Pawtucket through the September playoffs if Middlebrooks avoids the DL. If Will can’t get healthy, it may be time to give this “all-star caliber third baseman” more than a fleeting taste of the big leagues. We know that Brock Holt is a solid player, but Cecchini has the higher ceiling.