Friday, December 13, 2013
By Kevin Thomas firstname.lastname@example.org
BOSTON - Garin Cecchini came off the field following batting practice at Fenway Park. A reporter approached. A photographer snapped a picture. Someone else walked over, notebook in hand.
Advice to Cecchini: get used to it.
Cecchini, 22, is the NEXT ONE, the prospect fans will be looking at with dreams of stardom in Fenway. Xander Bogaerts has gone through it. Same with Jackie Bradley Jr.
"I've noticed a lot more media coverage," Cecchini said. "I try to live day by day, not look too much into the future. When you do that, you get yourself in trouble."
Cecchini went 0 for 2 with two walks Saturday. One of his outs was a line drive to right field, caught just above the grass by a diving Destin Hood.
He worked an eight-pitch walk in the first inning, then walked on four pitches in the seventh. After the second walk, he stole second and took the next two bases on wild pitches for Portland's final run.
One can picture Cecchini creating such excitement at Fenway again -- in a Boston uniform.
Cecchini came to the Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, signing for $1.3 million. It's always a bit of a gamble drafting a high school player, especially one who missed his senior season because of a knee injury.
But Cecchini is developing into a major leaguer. He was batting .350 at advanced Class A Salem with a 1.016 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) before his promotion June 21 to the Sea Dogs.
He has continued to amaze, batting .331 with an .892 OPS. His combined .343 average leads all Red Sox full-season minor leaguers. Bogaerts is next at .297.
"The most impressive thing about Garin is the consistency of his at-bats," said Ben Crockett, the Red Sox director of player development. "That's continued in Portland. He doesn't expand the (strike) zone and takes good, quality swings."
Cecchini works counts, draws walks, and often gets his pitch to hit.
"He has a good swing," Sea Dogs hitting coach Rich Gedman said. "He stays on the ball. Very rarely does he use high effort to get to the ball. Short, compact swing. Gives him the ability to hit off-speed as well as adapt to anything new.
"He'll go through his struggles like anyone else. But he's the type of guy who will come out of it sooner. He's a confident kid. He's got a pretty good makeup."
Yeah, there's something about that makeup. You saw it in Bradley and Bogaerts. And now Cecchini.
He's a really confident and energetic kid," Crockett said. "He brings so much energy to the ballpark every day.
"Getting promoted to Double-A and getting slotted into the middle of the lineup isn't something we often do with guys, but we have confidence in Garin's approach and his makeup, his ability to handle that."
Cecchini smiles through it all.
"It's gone as smooth as it can go," he said. "I've had to make adjustments, obviously, but it's been good. It's been a blast."
THE SEA DOGS had to wake up by 5:30 a.m. Saturday to catch their bus to Fenway.
"It was much easier to get up knowing you were coming to Fenway Park," center fielder Shannon Wilkerson said. "It's a great experience."
The pleasure began during batting practice.
"BP was exciting for everyone," Wilkerson said. "You take a couple of your BP swings to try to get it over the monster Then you have to go back to your approach."
And how did Wilkerson do? He smiled.
"I think I got two or three out," Wilkerson said.
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