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Why not Garin Cecchini? 04.06.14 at 3:21 pm ET
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Garin Cecchini led all of the minors in on-base percentage in 2013. (Salem Red Sox)

Garin Cecchini led all of the minors in on-base percentage in 2013. (Salem Red Sox)

With Will Middlebrooks on the disabled list, the Red Sox elected to call up Brock Holt — who likely will serve as a utility backup man, with Jonathan Herrera assuming primary duties at third base — from Triple-A Pawtucket. In a vacuum, the decision makes sense. The Sox need a versatile infielder, preferably one on the 40-man roster, in a world where Herrera is at third. But of course, the Sox did have another option: third baseman Garin Cecchini.

In a perfect world, calling up Cecchini is less than ideal. After all, the 22-year-old has played just three games above Double-A, having opened this season in Pawtucket by collecting five hits and walking twice in 11 plate appearances, good for a robust .556/.636/.667 line. That said, there have been other instances where inexperience in Triple-A has not prevented the Sox from promoting a position player, such as in 2009 when the team summoned Josh Reddick to the big leagues from Double-A, at the start of 2013 when Jackie Bradley Jr. opened the season in the big leagues without ever playing in Pawtucket, and when both Jacoby Ellsbury and Ryan Kalish were promoted with less than two months in Triple-A.

And in the case of Cecchini, there is an offensive maturity and polish to his approach as a hitter that suggest a player capable of being fast-tracked to the big leagues. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox minor league roundup: Eureka moment for Rubby De La Rosa?; (Pat) Light goes on in Greenville at 12:00 pm ET
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Rubby De La Rosa (AP)

Rubby De La Rosa (AP)

Finally, this was what the Red Sox had been waiting to see from Rubby De La Rosa. This was total dominance.

The line alone was glimmering: five shutout innings, two hits (a double and single), no walks, five strikeouts, nine groundball outs and just one out in the air. He needed just 70 pitches (43 strikes) to navigate through his outing, the sort of efficiency that has often eluded him. His fastball, according to PawSox play-by-play man Jeff Levering, sat at 93-96 mph all game and consistently down (hence the groundballs), he commanded his slider well and his changeup was a compelling out pitch, the go-to offering for four of his five punchouts.

But his performance went beyond that.

De La Rosa, sometimes prone to lapses of concentration and the appearance of uncertainty on the mound, showed poise and appeared to be in total control throughout the game. Those signs were significant enough, but in this case, the process was significant.

De La Rosa’s transition from the Dodgers to the Red Sox organization last year was not without challenges. He faced sometimes-frustrating workload restrictions in his return from Tommy John surgery, but beyond that, he faced a chorus of new voices to whom he was trying to acclimate in his first year with the Red Sox after being traded over from the Dodgers in 2012. He didn’t always show evidence of processing the messages he was being given.

But on Wednesday, De La Rosa had a bullpen session with Pawtucket bullpen coach Rich Sauveur in which dialogue between the two was implemented in pitch after pitch. De La Rosa again showed the ability to repeatedly translate conversation into his delivery in the bullpen prior to Saturday’s game, and again sustained it during the game. His focus was evident, but so, too, was his ability to receive instruction and implement it — often a key skill in allowing prospects to translate potential into performance. Multiple evaluators viewed his outing as his best — “by far” — since joining the Red Sox organization. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sunday notes: Will Middlebrooks (right calf) heads to DL, Brock Holt recalled, Garin Cecchini on hold for now at 11:40 am ET
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After feeling a twinge in his lower right leg during pre-game sprints Saturday night, Will Middlebrooks was diagnosed Sunday with a Grade 1 strain of his right calf and immediately placed on the 15-day disabled list.

The third baseman underwent an MRI Sunday morning that revealed the nature of the injury. Taking Middlebrooks place on the roster is utility infielder Brock Holt, who was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.

In playing the first four games of the season, Middlebrooks was 4-for-13 (.231) with one homer, one double and four strikeouts.

“He was disappointed when he first felt the calf grab him,” Farrell said. “The exam probably confirmed some of the thoughts based on the way he was reacting and responding to the sprints he went through and what he felt afterward. Unfortunately, we’re missing a power right-handed bat that was getting off to what looked to be a pretty darned good start.”

“It’s going to be case. He’ll be back on the field when he’s first available but it’s not going to be for another two weeks.” Longer? “Could be but we don’t know that yet.”

Farrell said the organization decided against promoting top infield prospect Garin Cecchini due to the desire to see Cecchini get more defensive reps with Triple-A Pawtucket.

“While he’s had some good at-bats there there’s still some development defensively that’s taking place,” Farrell said. “His time is coming but we didn’t feel like it was right now.”

Cecchini is hitting 5-for-9 (.556) in his first four games with Pawtucket this week.

Holt comes to Boston after being one of the last cuts in camp, when the team decided to keep infielder Jonathan Herrera.

“We’ll see what the best matchup might provide with those two guys,” Farrell said of Herrera and Holt. “Right now, Brock is the one that is on the roster. To get someone here currently to fill that spot and then in response to put Will on the DL. Whether we look find a better fit, that’s something we’re always looking for, not just this case but every other case so we’ll see what transpires over the two-week period that Will is going to be missed.”

Herrera was thrown into the fire Saturday night as the emergency fill-in at third base when Middlebrooks was initially scratched.

“This is a veteran guy who’s been accustomed to that role,” Farrell said of Herrera. “He finds a way to contribute based on his skills and he was able to do that [Saturday] night. Short notice, given the level of experience he has, he’s been in that position before and did everything we could’ve asked.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox minor league affiliate roster analysis: Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox 04.01.14 at 1:58 pm ET
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Anthony Ranaudo (AP)

Anthony Ranaudo (AP)

The Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox roster:


Drake Britton

Rubby De La Rosa

Chris Hernandez

Rich Hill

Dalier Hinojosa

Jeremy Kehrt

Tommy Layne

Anthony Ranaudo

Chris Resop

Brayan Villarreal

Allen Webster

Alex Wilson

Catchers Read the rest of this entry »

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Travis Shaw (2-for-2), Garin Cecchini (2-for-3) lead Red Sox over Boston College 02.27.14 at 5:48 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Travis Shaw drilled a three-run double to break open a close game as the Red Sox completed a sweep of their college doubleheader with a 5-2 win over Boston College Thursday at JetBlue Park.

The Red Sox had to come from behind in the opener to escape with a 5-2 win over Northeastern as Grady Sizemore returned to game action for the first time since Sept. 2011. Both games were played in seven innings.

In the nightcap, Brandon Snyder’s ground rule double off BC starter Eric Stevens scored Brock Holt for a 1-0 Red Sox lead. Christian Vazquez homered over the JetBlue Monster in left in the fourth to put Boston up, 2-0.

Garin Cecchini, Mookie Betts and Matty Johnson all singled to load the bases in the fifth. After Bryce Brentz struck out looking, Shaw, the son of former major league closer Jeff Shaw, doubled to deep right to open up the game and give the Red Sox a 5-0 lead.

Those three runs would prove valuable as Boston College scored twice off Austin Maddox in the seventh before left fielder Kuery De La Cruz threw out Geoffrey Murphy at the plate to end the game.

Rubby De La Rosa started and got the win, allowing just one hit while striking out two in two innings of work. Matt Barnes followed up with a perfect third inning.

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Garin Cecchini on D&C: ‘I’m trying to be a sponge’ at spring training 02.25.14 at 10:15 am ET
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Third baseman Garin Cecchini hit his fourth homer of the year on Tuesday. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

Garin Cecchini (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

Red Sox prospect Garin Cecchini joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning from spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., to discuss his first time at a major league camp. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On Friday, Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino told Dennis & Callahan that Cecchini was a new player who could have the biggest impact this season.

“Especially coming from a guy like Mr. Lucchino, it’€™s very humbling,” Cecchini said of the remark. “It’€™s good to give you confidence going into camp like that, the way he thinks of you.”

Cecchini has left a good impression, in part, because of his patience at the plate. During half a season at Double-A Portland last year, Cecchini had 51 walks in 295 plate appearances and a .420 on-base percentage.

“I think at a young age, both my parents were coaches that, when I would watch major league games, they told me to watch these players, be in the moment with them,” Cecchini said. “Like a Tony Gwynn, a left-handed hitter, or Joe Mauer – have the at-bat with them, and I would try to.

“When they were facing great pitchers I would try to have that at bat with them. At a young age, I was taught to get your pitch, put your best swing off and try to drive to left-center, right-center. Then the Red Sox, when I got here, didn’t change me at all. They just said keep the approach and put icing on the cake with the mentality.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox minor league notes: Mookie Betts works at shortstop, Garin Cecchini impresses at third 02.24.14 at 9:50 am ET
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Mookie Betts took groundballs at shortstop on Sunday. (WEEI.com)

Mookie Betts took groundballs at shortstop on Sunday. (WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mookie Betts is the best Red Sox position prospect who is not in big league camp. He’s coming off a breakthrough 2013 season in which he showed a tremendous approach at the plate, drawing walks, forcing pitchers to throw strikes and impacting the ball when they did so. He hit for power (15 homers), he was a game-changer on the bases (38-for-42 in stolen base attempts) and he showed a penchant for highlight reel defense at times while splitting the year between Single-A Greenville and High-A Salem.

One problem: He plays a position where the Red Sox have identified their everyday second baseman for the next eight years.

Betts may be ideally suited for second base, but assuming that his path to the big leagues would have to be re-routed if he was to ascend through the Sox system, the team believes that there could be alternative pathways for the 21-year-old. And so it was noteworthy that on Sunday, Betts camped out at shortstop during batting practice and then worked out at the position with infield coordinator Andy Fox.

Part of the exercise of taking grounders at short was simply to maintain arm strength. Indeed, Dustin Pedroia has been known to take groundballs at short for the same reason. Still, in the case of Betts, the idea of creating more versatility on his way up through the minors has particular significance. If he can show the ability to play second and short, while also potentially mixing in work in the outfield (Betts played short and center in high school, and he still tracks balls in the outfield with a sense of purpose during batting practice), then it increases considerably the likelihood that he can find a role in the big leagues with the Red Sox.

Fox said that Betts, thanks to the explosiveness of his first step, has the range to play shortstop (he played 13 games at short in his pro debut in Lowell before the arrival of Deven Marrero resulted in Betts spending most of the rest of the season at second). While some have asked if he has the arm for the position, Fox is not among them. “He has plenty of arm strength,” said Fox.

Video evidence that Betts took a groundball at shortstop: Read the rest of this entry »

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