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For Garin Cecchini, one goal fulfilled, more remain

07.15.13 at 8:09 am ET
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NEW YORK — Garin Cecchini was not originally on the U.S. Team’s roster at the All-Star Futures Game. With the Red Sox already represented by shortstop Xander Bogaerts and right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, Cecchini was squeezed onto a short list of five players subject to fan voting for the final roster spot. He finished second in that process, and so, it was only last week that he learned from his manager in Double-A Portland, Kevin Boles, that he would be going to CitiField to take part in the prospect showcase as an injury replacement for slugging Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo.

Cecchini was thrilled to take part in the event. Yet he was not shocked to be selected. Far from it.

“It was kind of disappointing — thought I should have made it already,” said Cecchini. “It happens, but I’m here, and it’s cool.”

The 22-year-old carried himself like someone who felt that he belonged on the same playing field as the top prospects in the minors, and with good reason. Between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland this year, he’s hitting .353 with a .468 OBP and .535 slugging mark, showing the sort of skill that had one evaluator suggesting that he could emerge as a future batting title winner, a notion that didn’t seem far-fetched to the other Sox prospects in the Futures Game.

“He’s been pretty unbelievable,” noted pitcher Anthony Ranaudo, who has spent recent weeks watching Cecchini tear through the Eastern League (.361/.465/.500) since his promotion. “He finds the barrel on his bat more consistently than other guys I’ve seen, especially at his age.”

“I always liked him as a hitter when we were in extended [spring] together,” said fellow Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts, alluding to their time as teammates in Fort Myers at the start of 2011. “I knew he was going to become something good. He had something with his swing to the opposite field. It was something unique I would say.”

It is an approach with which Cecchini is extremely confident. Indeed, such is his belief in his own abilities that even as the 22-year-old delighted in the company he kept in New York, he also viewed it as the fulfillment of a preseason ambition rather than a shock.

“One of my goals going into the offseason was to make this game — I’m not going to lie. It’s just a dream come true.  It’s pretty cool. It’s another stepping stone in my career, and it’s going to be fun,” said Cecchini. “It’s just a huge honor. Look at all these players — these guys are elite players in the minor leagues. … Once you got into pro ball, Futures Game should be one of your goals. Write down your goals. That’s one of the goals I had. Never told anyone. But every time you see those goals every day, you’re like, ‘Wake up — let’s do it.’ ”

Cecchini was not content merely to take part in the contest. He also made his mark on it. He got to the plate twice for the U.S. team, both times ambushing first-pitch fastballs. In his first plate appearance, he drove a ball to the warning track to the opposite field (left-center) for an inning-ending flyout, and then in his second at-bat, with runners on first and second, he lined a ball into the right field corner for an RBI double that gave his team its final run in a 4-2 win over the World team.

“It felt good to be around all these elite players. It’€™s awesome,” Cecchini said afterwards. “These guys are the elite of the elite in the minor leagues. To have success against them is really a confidence booster.’€

With one goal accomplished, Cecchini acknowledged that there are more in front of him — one towering above all others.

“Get to the big leagues and help the Red Sox win — that’s a goal I have,” said Cecchini. “That’s written down. That’s the first one.”

 

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