June 24, 2013 at 12:37 PM
Nearly every new player that arrives in Portland manager Kevin Boles’ clubhouse does so after a spell of extended success in High A Salem.
The latest in a line of top prospects to arrive from the Carolina League with a gaudy stat line and the accompanying prospect buzz is third baseman Garin Cecchini, who was promoted after an all-star first half, during which he hit .350/.469/.547 in 63 Carolina League games.
For Cecchini to carry that success into the challenging Double-A Eastern League, Boles said the key would be to not let the new surroundings or higher competition change his approach.
“Don’t assume that you’re going to have to make adjustments—that’s the biggest trap that young guys coming in fall into,” Boles said. “They’ve been successful for a reason, and if the league shows that you need to make adjustments down the road, that’s fine. And the league will eventually make the adjustments and you have to adjust to that, but don’t assume you have to change anything just because you’re in a new uniform at a higher level. Just play your game, be comfortable. That’s when you find out what you really have.”
That message, which Boles said he delivers to players in Cecchini’s situation, is likely to have been well received by the young third baseman. Throughout the first half of the season, Cecchini credited his belief in his abilities and confidence in his plate approach for his success in Salem.
Over one third of his 75 hits in Salem, 28 of them, went for extra bases, but it was his consistency that made his Carolina League campaign stand out. He had hits in 45 of 63 games, reaching base in 56 of those contests.
In his abbreviated look, Boles said Cecchini is able to see a lot of pitches because of his calmness in the zone.
“There’s no panic,” Boles said. “If he gets to two strikes, he’s still fine. He doesn’t worry about getting behind. He just manages his at bats, and guys who can do that … they’re usually the better hitters.”
“I’m trying to bring the same approach every single day,” Cecchini said before Sunday’s game. “It’s only been two games, but I’ve had good at-bats here and they’ve made some good pitches on me. I’m just trying to take what I’ve done (in Salem) and bring it here because it’s the same game. (Pitchers) might be a little bit better at controlling their pitches or something, but it’s the same game.”
After collecting one hit in his first two Double-A games, Cecchini reached base safely four times Sunday. After reaching on an error in the first inning, he sandwiched singles in the fifth and ninth innings around a pair of walks as Portland extended its lead against Trenton’s bullpen.
Sunday’s matinee in Portland marked the end of a whirlwind week for Cecchini, who represented the Carolina League in High-A All-Star Game in San Jose against the California League All Stars.
Cecchini and teammate Blake Swihart flew west after Salem ended its first half on Sunday, June 16 (pitcher Henry Owens, also an all-star, reportedly did not bother making the trip because he would not have participated in the game after pitching on Sunday). After Tuesday’s game, he returned back to Salem to find he had to pack up the rest of his belongings.
“You dream of those calls,” Cecchini said. “That’s just the appetizing call of the big call, going to the big leagues. I got a little taste of it so now I’m here and hopefully we can get some wins in.”
Photo Credit: Garin Cecchini by Kelly O'Connor
Jon Meoli is a Senior Columnist at SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonMeoli.