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Prospect Preview: Garin Cecchini

With the MLB Draft taking place last night, it's important to note that due to changes in the CBA affecting the draft, draft picks like tonight's subject would never have been signed. That's because, taken in the fourth round, Garin Cecchini took a well over-slot $1.31 million deal to sign with the Red Sox. With new the draft rules, there's almost no way a team could offer that much over slot to a 4th rounder without punting an earlier pick or two. Cecchini dropped in the 2010 draft due to a torn ACL during his senior year, but had previously shown one of the purer bats in the draft.

Garin Cecchini - 3B - Red Sox - Cecchini showed little rust coming off his torn ACL while racking up 114 at-bats in an injury shortened season in short season Lowell, posting an sweet .298/.398/.500 slash line with an impressive 12.8% walk rate and a stingy 14.3% strikeout rate. While he did post a .500 slugging percentage in short season ball, power is not part of Cecchini's game, though he should grow into average power in time. His slash line is surely impressive, but at 20 years old, one might expect a good line in such a low-level league. After suffering a broken wrist, Cecchini missed the remainder of the 2011 season. Despite not wracking up a ton of playing time for a 2010 draftee, the Red Sox rightly pushed Cecchini to Lo-A Greenville where he makes up the left side of the infield with another intriguing prospect: Jose Vinicio. While both profile as 3B down the line, it is Cecchini manning the hot corner for Greenville. Cecchini has built upon his 2011 slash line with a remarkably similar .306/.394/.449 line, holding steady in average and on-base percentage while losing a bit in the slugging department. That being said, he did drop almost 2% in his walk rate while seeing his strikeout rise 4% to 18.6%. Both those rates are still positives, but obviously trending in the wrong direction in a small sample size. A nice aspect of Cecchini's game is his sneaky speed, having stolen 12 bases in 2011 and is already up to 19 (!) in just a couple months in 2012, showing that he is fully recovered from his reconstructive knee surgery.

Read more on Cecchini after the jump...

While speed isn't a major aspect of Cecchini's profile, he does have average speed, which is more than most third basemen can say. His calling card though is his sweet swing, as he is the best pure hitter in the Red Sox system. He has terrific hand-eye coordination that allows him to make a lot of contact while also showing an advanced approach at the plate. His hit tool is a pure plus, and while he only shows average power right now, some think he could end up with plus power down the line, as he learns to turn on inside pitches. In the field, Cecchini is a bit of a work in progress. While he played shortstop in high school, the move to third base hasn't gone as smoothly as anticipated. Despite solid hands, arm and agility, Cecchini committed 10 errors in a mere 26 games, and has received the "fringy" label from a few scouts. No one thinks he'll need to move off the position long term however.

Long term Cecchini profiles as an above-average third baseman who will help in batting average and on-base percentage. The question with him is the power tool, but even if it remains average, the total package is quite valuable. If he can learn to turn on the inside pitch and use his power in-game, he's a future all-star with plus hit and power tools, who can add value on the basepaths. His defense might always be on the periphery of acceptable, but the bat makes it worthwhile to keep him at the hot corner. If the power comes along, Cecchini could supplant Middlebrooks as the Red Sox third baseman in due time(though Bogaerts might stake claim to that title in the meantime), if not become a highly valuable trade chip. Given the presence of Middlebrooks ahead of him, and Bogaerts along side him, the Red Sox have no reason to push Cecchini, though his bat might dictate a promotion to Hi-A later in the year.

Source Material:
Baseball America

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