Garin Cecchini has had a tumultuous year.
Coming off a stellar 2013 season, Cecchini entered last season as one of the top prospects in the Red Sox organization. With his spectacular hit tool and elite plate discipline, many were quick to name Cecchini the third baseman of the future. However, all of that has changed since the start of the 2014 season.
While Cecchini didn’t totally flop last season, he clearly disappointed in his first taste of Triple-A baseball. In an attempt to add more power to his swing, he underwent a disastrous midseason slump and his final slash line reflected it, as he wound up hitting .263/.341/.371 in 114 games with the PawSox. That line was a far cry from 2013’s line of .322/.443/.471 between High-A and Double-A and it raised concerns about Cecchini’s future performance at the plate, even after he impressed with a .258/.361/.452 line in 11 major league games.
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That was the first blow to Cecchini’s hype, as he fell from a highly-touted youngster to a prospect that, while promising, had an uncertain future. The second blow was much more severe, however, as the Red Sox secured their formerly up-for-grabs third base position by signing Pablo Sandoval to a 5 year/$95M contract.
Entering the 2015 season, Cecchini is now out of a position and headed for his second season in Triple-A. However, the Red Sox may not have totally given up on the 23-year old either. John Farrell recently spoke on the possibility of Cecchini adding some versatility to his game and molding into a utility role.
"The way he swung the bat when he came up last September, and the way he’s swung the bat this spring, it looks like his bat will be ready before a defensive opening at third base is going to present itself. He’s embraced it, and I think he’s seen a number of players go before him that the versatility has created.It can allow them to break through and land a spot on the big league club, whether it’s [Daniel] Nava adding first base, whether it’s Mookie [Betts] going to the outfield or Brock Holt. That list is growing by pretty tangible examples. You create some versatility, you make yourself that much more valuable."
Cecchini doesn’t have the athleticism to become a true super-utility man, in the same vein as Holt or Betts, but there’s certainly room for him to move around the diamond. His primary position throughout his minor league career has been third base, but he did begin playing some left field in Pawtucket last season. Ideally, Cecchini would be able to add both corner outfield spots plus first base to his resume, which would absolutely give him a place in Boston’s future.
Even at third base, Cecchini has never been a spectacular defensive player, so it’s possible that he’ll take slowly to this sort of role. However, barring a trade (which is certainly a possibility) or injuries, adding some versatility is the only way that Cecchini will contribute at the major league level. He has the type of skill set to succeed in a bench role, and it would be phenomenal to see him take to this utility spot.