Playing time. The two words that every young prospect wants to hear when they get called up to the big club. The Boston Red Sox recently called up Garin Cecchini, an infielder from Triple-A Pawtucket, to fill in the spot that pitcher Steven Wright once had, before going on the seven-day disabled list. However, he may be sent back down after Christopher Smith of MassLive.com reported that “right-handed pitcher Matt Barnes will be recalled Monday to start for the Boston Red Sox. A roster spot will need to be opened and Cecchini might be the one to go down.”
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Cecchini pinch-ran for David Ortiz, making him the new designated hitter for his one and only plate appearance in yesterday’s romp over the Seattle Mariners. Cecchini swung on the first pitch and hit a flyout to left field. That may be his only big league at-bat for the rest of the 2015 season.
His future started so bright by being drafted in the fourth round in 2010 by the Red Sox. Smith said, “SoxProspects.com ranked Cecchini the third best prospect in the Red Sox system in its September 2013 ranking and the fourth best prospect in April 2014. Baseball America also ranked the 6-foot-3 left-handed hitting Cecchini the 74th best pro prospect entering 2014.”
However, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound prospect’s value dropped significantly since that time. The 24-year-old has struggled at the plate in Pawtucket this year, hitting a slash line of .218/.293/.307 with six home runs, 25 RBIs, 35 walks, and 92 strikeouts in 362 at-bats. To put that into perspective, Travis Shaw, another Red Sox prospect who is currently playing in Boston’s infield, hit a slash line of .249/.318/.356 with five home runs, 30 RBIs, 26 walks, and 54 strikeouts in 289 at-bats in Triple-A. Considering that experts were questioning even Shaw’s bat, Cecchini isn’t exactly blowing scouts away, this season.
As far as fielding goes, Cecchini has played left field, first base, and third base with mixed results. He has fielding percentages of .981 in left, .990 at first, and .917 at third base, with a combined total of seven errors. Shaw played all of the same positions as Cecchini, but played flawlessly in left field, reasonably the same at first base (.989), and much better at third (.968). To be fair to Cecchini, it’s worth noting that Shaw also had seven errors.
The comparison of Cecchini and Shaw is an important point after looking at Boston’s current roster. For infielders, the Red Sox have 2015 All-Star Brock Holt, breakout star Xander Bogaerts, big-name hitter Pablo Sandoval (regardless of what his average says), Josh Rutledge, and team leader Dustin Pedroia (when he’s healthy) on top of these other two men. The team can only play four men in the infield, and it’s not like Cecchini will likely take a veteran’s spot or develop a sense of shortstop all of a sudden. Not that Rutledge is lighting up pitchers either, with four hits in 16 at-bats, but it makes sense that if the Red Sox brought him over in a trade to be with the big club then they will want to see him even more than Cecchini.
Let’s not even discuss the long-standing log jam that is the outfield. With Jackie Bradley Jr. doing better with his bat, the Red Sox would have stars Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, and recently-successful prospect Rusney Castillo as a four-man combination. Cecchini likely will not be breaking through that lineup any time soon.
The best shot that Cecchini gets playing time this year will be at first base, barring any other injuries to Sandoval or other veterans. Right now, that’s Shaw’s spot to lose.
Just don’t count out the man, either. In a recent update by MLB.com, the Top Prospect list has Cecchini ahead of Shaw, giving hope that his potential will, maybe, shine brighter one day. Even then, however, the list has Cecchini at number 14 for the total amount of Red Sox prospects. There’s thirteen other men, some of them younger than Cecchini, who also want a spot with the big club.
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