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Red Sox minor league roundup: Taking stock of Garin Cecchini’s struggles; Travis Shaw’s landmark; Blake Swihart mashing 07.29.14 at 1:12 pm ET
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Garin Cecchini hit his fourth homer of the year on Monday. (AP)

Garin Cecchini hit his fourth homer of the year on Monday. (AP)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-4 LOSS AT SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)

(BOX)

Garin Cecchini, amidst the worst offensive stretch of his career, enjoyed a positive glimmer on Monday, going 1-for-4 with a homer, his first of the month and his fourth of the year. Still, the struggles of Cecchini represent one of the foremost puzzles of 2014 in the Red Sox farm system. A player with a tremendous ability to catch the ball on his barrel and to shoot hits all over the field — while staying back and drawing enormous numbers of walks — has seen his season enter something of a spiral over the last two months.

On May 15, he had a pair of hits to improve his line to a .306 average, .400 OBP and .379 slugging mark. In 49 games since then, he’s hitting .200 with a .262 OBP and .289 slugging mark. And his struggles don’t simply reflect bad luck and a poor batting average on balls in play — Cecchini has 12 walks (6.2 percent walk rate) and 44 strikeouts (22.6 percent rate) during that span, marks that represent a considerable shift from his career norms.

In short, Cecchini — a consistently excellent performer during his professional career — finds himself in an unfamiliar place in Triple-A, with a .243 average, .321 OBP and .326 slugging mark on the year. Evaluators — both inside and outside the Red Sox system — continue to believe that Cecchini will hit, and perhaps the homer on Monday represents the beginning of a strong finishing stretch to his minor league season. But for the first time, Cecchini’s player development path now includes something other than a straight line ascent through the minors, likely delaying his eventual timetable for a regular role in the big leagues.

Travis Shaw went 1-for-4 while launching an eighth-inning homer, reaching a career milestone. Shaw now has 20 homers on the year between Double-A Portland (11 in 47 games) and Pawtucket (9 in 54 games), one of 29 players in the minors with 20-plus homers at this point. He thus surpassed his previous career-high of 19 homers achieved in 2012. Shaw is hitting .290/.347/.491 in Triple-A and .297/.374/.517 between the two levels. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: blake swihart, garin cecchini, manuel margot, raiwinson lameda
Red Sox minor league roundup: Steven Wright dominating; Garin Cecchini avoids injury; Nick Longhi, Carson Blair streaking 07.10.14 at 2:25 pm ET
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Garin Cecchini appears to have avoided serious injury in a home plate collision on Wednesday. (AP)

Garin Cecchini appears to have avoided serious injury in a home plate collision on Wednesday. (AP)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-1 WIN AT COLUMBUS (INDIANS)

(BOX)

– Though Garin Cecchini had to be removed from Wednesday’s game after a collision at home plate, with the injury having been described as a shoulder having popped out of and then right back into its socket, the 23-year-old felt fine after the game. The Red Sox expect to know more about the injury in the coming days, but the initial sense was that the prospect had avoided any significant harm. Cecchini was 1-for-2 with a double and a walk before exiting the contest.

– Knuckleballer Steven Wright continued his dominance, tossing eight shutout innings in which he’s allowed two hits, walked three and struck out eight. Wright has gone at least seven innings in four straight starts. In eight starts in Triple-A (after a season-opening stint on the DL), Wright is 4-1 with a 2.04 ERA, 8.2 strikeouts per nine and 2.0 walks per nine. Opponents are hitting .194 against him.

– With Christian Vazquez in the big leagues and Red Sox GM Ben Cherington saying that the team has no immediate plans to promote Blake Swihart to Triple-A, Dan Butler once again appears to be in line for regular playing time in Pawtucket. Butler went 1-for-4 with his third homer of the year on Wednesday, with his line for the year now sitting at .233/.316/.344. A year ago, Butler struggled early while relegated to part-time duty behind Ryan Lavarnway, hitting .196/.311/.348 through mid-June, but then thrived when he assumed primary catching duties for the duration of the year, finishing with a .262/.350/.479 line that had him (in combination with his solid defense) on the radar of many big league clubs. He has an opportunity to do the same this year. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carson blair, garin cecchini, nick longhi, steven wright
Family affair: Red Sox prospect Garin Cecchini, brother Gavin pursue major league dreams 07.02.14 at 1:54 pm ET
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Garin (left) and Gavin (right) Cecchini played for their dad Glenn (center) at Barbe High School in Lake Charles, L.A. (Photo courtesy of Cecchini Family)

Garin (left) and Gavin Cecchini (right) played for their dad Glenn (center) at Barbe High School in Lake Charles, La. (Cecchini family)

Understand this about Garin and Gavin Cecchini: They did not grow up in the typical southern, Christian household. Sure, the Cecchinis are both from Louisiana and were raised in a very devout Christian family, but Raissa and Glenn Cecchini did not raise their kids like most other families.

Both Raissa and Glenn Cecchini are lifelong baseball coaches. Both parents coached at Barbe High School in Lake Charles, La., where Glenn still coaches baseball in addition to his duties as a coach for Team USA. Raissa, on the other hand, is a 20-year coaching veteran and won the Easton National Master Coach of the Year award in 1997.

Saying that baseball runs in the Cecchini bloodline would be an understatement. The kids started off playing baseball at a young age together. Garin and Gavin often played with the neighborhood kids in their backyard, where the family had a small baseball field.

The brothers would team up and “destroy” their opponents.

“Garin and me would get two other guys,” said Gavin, now a 20-year-old Mets minor league shortstop. “It wasn’t always the same guys, but there was another guy that we usually played against. His name was Zach Von Rosenberg. He pitches in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Zach and Garin are the same age and me and Zach’s younger brother are the same age so we would play against them a lot.”

“I remember us always being on teams and us fighting when we would lose and us cheering when we would win,” said Garin, now a 23-year-old third baseman who is one of the Red Sox‘ top prospects. “That’s where we started to actually love the game. We would have Wiffle balls and we would throw as hard as we could and try to hit the ball as far as we can and always beat the other guys.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox minor league roundup: Garin Cecchini, run producer; Mookie Betts adds another position; Henry Owens, Joe Gunkel ridiculous; Trey Ball’s struggles continue 06.27.14 at 12:07 pm ET
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Garin Cecchini launched his first pro grand slam on Thursday. (AP)

Garin Cecchini launched his first pro grand slam on Thursday. (AP)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 7-3 WIN VS. NORFOLK (ORIOLES)

(BOX)

Garin Cecchini, back at third base on Thursday, launched a first-inning grand slam as part of a 1-for-3 day that also included a walk. While Cecchini’s overall numbers this year have looked modest (.263/.340/.343), he’s been a monster with opportunities to drive in runners. With runners on base, he’s hitting .320/.395/.410, marks that bump up to .393/.493/.536 with runners in scoring position and .625/.625/1.250 with two doubles and a homer in eight plate appearances with the bases loaded. The grand slam was the first of Cecchini’s pro career.

– Feats of Mookie: Diversifying. With Shane Victorino‘s rehab stalled by back stiffness, Mookie Betts played right field for the first time on Thursday. Though he bobbled a single, he recovered in time to throw out a runner trying to advance from first to third. At the plate, he went 0-for-2 but drew two walks, extending his streak of consecutive games reaching base by walk or hit since his promotion to Pawtucket to 22, with a line of .330/.422/.455 in that time. He also stole his seventh base in nine attempts since joining the PawSox. At a time when he may be days away from a big league callup, Betts displays surprise about his rocketing career trajectory.

– First baseman Travis Shaw went 2-for-4 with a double, giving him four extra-base hits in two days after he had just six in his first 27 contests following his promotion from Portland.

– Right-hander Matt Barnes allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings, allowing five hits (a solo homer and four singles), walking three and punching out five. Though the three walks were the most he’d issued in six starts, Barnes threw 69 of 102 pitches (68 percent) for strikes, and on the year, he’s showing improved control from a year ago, trimming his walk rate from 3.8 to 2.8 per nine innings. Since a two-start stumble in which he gave up 13 runs in 7 1/3 innings, Barnes has a 3.41 ERA in his last five starts.

– Outfielder Andres Torres joined Pawtucket from Lowell, going 0-for-3 while playing center field.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 9-4 WIN AT READING (PHILLIES)

(BOX)

– Left-hander Henry Owens proved human, allowing four runs on five hits (including a pair of two-run homers) in six innings. The four-run yield matched his total from his previous eight outings (spanning 51 1/3 innings). Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: garin cecchini, joe gunkel, mookie betts, Trey Ball
Red Sox minor league roundup: Garin Cecchini isn’t sweating numbers; Henry Owens’ Double-A tenure nearing an end?; Sean Coyle’s outrageous run; Manuel Margot’s five-tool breakthrough 06.25.14 at 12:01 pm ET
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Garin Cecchini has seen his walk rate fall and his strikeout rate rise in Triple-A this year. (AP)

Garin Cecchini has seen his walk rate fall and his strikeout rate rise in Triple-A this year. (AP)

A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-6 LOSS VS. NORFOLK (ORIOLES)

(BOX)

Garin Cecchini, back at third base with Will Middlebrooks missing a second straight game, went 2-for-5 with a triple. It was his first multi-hit game and extra-base hit since June 10.

Cecchini’s numbers this year are surprisingly modest. One year after he tore up High-A and Double-A at a .322/.443/.471 clip that included 47 extra-base hits and more walks (94) than strikeouts (86) en route to the best OBP among full-season minor leaguers, the 23-year-old is hitting just .263 with a .340 OBP and .333 slugging mark along with 11 extra-base hits through 66 games.

After striking out in 15.4 percent of plate appearances a year ago, Cecchini has fanned in 21.9 percent of trips to the dish this year. His walk rate has plummeted from 16.9 percent a year ago to 9.4 percent this year. By virtually any measure, it’s difficult to view his performance this year as anything but a significant dropoff from last year.

Yet evaluators who have seen Cecchini in Pawtucket insist that he continues to have quality plate appearances, and believe that the numbers will eventually follow suit. Cecchini likewise said that he’s comfortable with the fact that he’s been able to hold his own while on something of a player development fast track that has earned him big league callups twice.

“The numbers don’t lie. At the same time, I don’t even know what the average age is up there, but I’m one of the youngest guys [in Pawtucket],” said Cecchini. “Just to have some sort of success against guys that have been to the big leagues and learning the adjustment period . . . I was in High-A last year. The competition there was good, but these guys know how to pitch. They don’t miss over the plate as much. You’ve got to know how to pick your spots and at the same time, you don’t want to second-guess your approach. You want to stay to your approach and that’s what I’ve done. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: danny mars, garin cecchini, henry owens, manuel margot
Red Sox designate Grady Sizemore for assignment, recall Garin Cecchini from Pawtucket 06.17.14 at 3:31 pm ET
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The comeback tour for Grady Sizemore is over.

An industry source told Alex Speier of WEEI.com that the Red Sox designated the outfielder for assignment to clear a roster spot for third baseman Garin Cecchini. After a strong spring training, Sizemore struggled to find consistency at the plate, hitting .216/.288/.324 with two home runs, 15 RBIs, 10 doubles, two triples and five stolen bases in 185 at-bats over 52 games.

Cecchini makes his second trip to the majors this season. He made his major league debut on June 1, going 1-for-2 with a double and an RBI. So far this season in Pawtucket, Cecchini has hit .263/.344/.329 with two homers, 24 RBIs, eight doubles and eight stolen bases.

 

Read More: garin cecchini, grady sizemore,
Red Sox minor league roundup: Brian Johnson dominating; Felix Doubront’s missing velocity; Garin Cecchini goes deep 06.11.14 at 12:00 pm ET
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Left-hander Brian Johnson continued to dominate in Double-A. (Greenville Drive/Darrell Snow)

Left-hander Brian Johnson continued to dominate in Double-A. (Greenville Drive/Darrell Snow)

A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-3 WIN (10 INNINGS) VS. LOUISVILLE (REDS)

(BOX)

Felix Doubront made his second rehab start (and first for Pawtucket), going 4 2/3 innings and allowing two runs on six hits and a walk while fanning three. Doubront threw 75 pitches with 44 going for strikes. Most of the six hits he allowed were struck well, with the Bats clubbing two doubles in the opening inning while scattering three line-drive singles and a ground ball single throughout the rest of Doubront’s outing.

According to the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton, Doubront’s velocity, which had been a cause for concern prior to his injury, dipped considerably, with just four of his 75 pitches hitting 90 miles per hour or higher on the stadium gun, while his fastball sat around 87-88 mph.

“It’€™s a process. It was nice and easy and trying to control my pitches,” Doubront told Britton. “€œI’m looking for strength and trying to get my fastball a little bit more velocity. Right now, I feel good where I am.”

Despite the decline in velocity and the solid contact made off of the left-hander, Doubront insists that he is healthy and making progress towards a return.

“Health is first, and results I can fix later,” Doubront told Britton. “I don’t feel anything — no shooting soreness or shooting pain [in my shoulder]. It’€™s strong. Better than before.”

At a time when Doubront’s stuff has been less than overpowering and his results on the year have been mixed, Brandon Workman may be making a case to take the left-hander’s spot in the rotation. For more on that situation, click here.

Garin Cecchini had his third three-hit performance of the season, going 3-for-5 and smacking his second home run of the season, a line drive solo shot to right field. It’d been 162 plate appearances since Cecchini’s last home run. He also singled twice and scored the winning run in the 10th inning. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: brian johnson, cody kukuk, felix doubront, garin cecchini
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