BOSTON — Garin Cecchini knows that a major league call-up is right under his nose.
“You can kind of sniff it right now,” Cecchini said Friday. “Like I said, you’ve just got to keep working and give it all you’ve got, especially going into big league camp and trying to soak everything in from all the veterans, and kind of be a sponge and be all ears and no mouth.”
Cecchini, who was a breakout star at High-A Salem and Double-A Portland in 2013, was one of 10 minor leaguers who participated in this year’s Red Sox Rookie Program, which is designed to ease up-and-coming prospects’ transition to the majors. Cecchini might not vie for a permanent spot on Boston’s big league roster in 2014, but the 22-year-old third baseman really has impressed the Red Sox since being drafted in the fourth round in 2010.
“Garin’s shown us a lot within his progression in High-A and Double-A last year and then again in the Fall League,” Red Sox Director of Player Development Ben Crockett said Friday. “He’s got an excellent approach at the plate and one that I think certainly could, in short stints, hold its own at any level. I think there’s absolutely some development left to be done on both sides of the ball — offensively as he continues to learn his swing and learn hitting against more veteran pitching, as well as on the defensive side. The fact that he’s here and the strides that he’s made and success he’s had puts him in a good position.”
Cecchini led the Red Sox farm system with a .322 average in 2013. He hit .350 in 63 games with Salem to begin the season, and then continued his torrid pace at Portland, where he hit .296 in 66 contests. Cecchini led all minor leaguers (minimum 350 at-bats) with a .443 on-base percentage while reaching safely in 120 of his 129 games.
The Red Sox rewarded Cecchini, a three-time minor league All-Star who also hit .277 (18-for-65) in the Arizona Fall League this past year, with a spot on their 40-man roster. The move mainly was so that Cecchini wouldn’t be subject to this winter’s Rule 5 Draft, but it’s also an indication that the Louisiana native is getting closer to calling Fenway Park home.
Cecchini said Friday that his recent stint in the Arizona Fall League — during which he helped the Surprise Saguaros to a championship — further aided in his development, as it gave him more at-bats and extra repetitions in the field. The young infielder understands that he must continue to progress, particularly defensively, before fully entering the major league discussion.
“Being more consistent is the name of the game,” Cecchini said. “That’s why the big leaguers are the big leaguers, because they’re consistent.”
If Cecchini continues his upward trend, the aroma of a major league call-up will grow stronger in 2014. The scent certainly is percolating amongst the Red Sox’ decision-makers, and it simply might be a matter of time before Cecchini becomes a key cog in Boston’s lineup.