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Red Sox Minor League Notes: Intriguing Double-A rotation, Garin Cecchini’s growth

03.13.13 at 7:33 pm ET

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Anthony Ranaudo threw three innings in a Triple-A spring training game, showing good power on both his fastball and curveball and incorporating a few good changeups. His fastball command was initially shaky, though by his third inning of work, he was locating down in the strike zone and getting swings and misses on both his fastball and curve. Ranaudo is expected to open the year in Double-A.

Here’s some of WEEI.com’s Zapruder footage of Ranaudo’s first inning of work on Wednesday:

— The Double-A Portland rotation will be a prospect-laden one. While not set in stone, a team official said that 2011 first-rounder Matt Barnes is expected to open the season in Double-A Portland after going 7-5 with a 2.86 ERA in Single-A Greenville and High-A Salem last season. Barnes struggled at the end of 2012, finishing the year with Salem with a 3.58 ERA, but the Sox chalked up most of those late-season struggles to the challenges presented by a pitcher’s first full pro season.

Barnes would join a rotation that also includes Ranaudo, Brandon Workman and Drake Britton in Portland, representing a fairly interesting mix of homegrown pitcher’s with mid-rotation big league upside.

— Third baseman Garin Cecchini, after a rigorous offseason training regimen, is huge this spring. He is approximately 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, according to a team official. What that means for the 2010 fourth-round pick on the field remains to be seen, but if the 21-year-old adds power to an impressive plate approach, he could emerge as one of the top few prospects in the team’s system. Cecchini hit .305 with a .394 OBP, .433 slugging mark and .827 OPS along with 51 steals (in 57 attempts) but with just four homers in Single-A Greenville last year. Still, talent evaluators who saw Greenville raved about the maturity of Cecchini’s plate discipline and approach, suggesting that power was likely to come for him down the road.

Alfredo Aceves threw a scoreless inning in a Double-A game, in the right-hander’s first game action since returning to Red Sox camp from Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. He is expected to make a start on Saturday.

— The Red Sox will face something of a corner infielder logjam in Double-A Portland this year, with Kolbrin Vitek, Travis Shaw and Michael Almanzar all expected to start the year at that level. The team is expected to distribute at-bats between the three at first base, third base and DH, with Shaw and Almanzar getting time at both corners as well as DH, and Vitek playing third while DH-ing.

Read More: anthony ranaudo, garin cecchini, kolbrin vitek, matt barnes
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