Allen Lessels' On Baseball: Cecchini's star rises
THAT MUST have been quite the A.M. Barbe High School Buccaneer middle infield back in Lake Charles, La., in 2009.
It featured senior Garin Cecchini at shortstop and freshman Gavin Cecchini at second base, playing for their Dad, Glenn.
"It was a real good team," Garin Cecchini said in the Portland Sea Dog dugout on Friday night. "Unfortunately, we couldn't pull one out in the state tournament. But it was fun playing with my dad and my brother."
The Brothers Cecchini have moved on now and are still having fun and earning praise as major league infield prospects.
Garin was a fourth round pick of the Red Sox in the 2010 draft despite missing all of his senior season of high school with an ACL tear in his right knee. He's 22 and the third baseman in Portland in his second week of Double-A after tearing up Single-A Salem to start the season.
The New York Mets picked Gavin, 19 now, in the first round just over a year ago, 12th overall, and he is playing shortstop with the Brooklyn Cyclones of the New York-Penn League.
"He's an unbelievable player," Garin said of his little brother. "He's so young in his career and he's accomplished a lot of stuff. I feel like if he stays humble and keeps working hard, he's going to have a long career."
Garin is listed as the No. 4 Red Sox prospect at the website soxprospects.com at the moment and Gavin is No. 10 on a similar list at metsprospects.com.
"It is kind of unique," Garin said of chasing a baseball dream alongside his brother. "You don't see that a lot, but you see it sometimes. It's pretty cool."
Garin, listed at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, is a little bigger than Gavin, who is 6-foot-1 and 180. He swings from the left side and Gavin from the right.Gavin hit .250 in his first 10 games with the Cyclones.
Garin had a .350 batting in Salem and hasn't let up much since hitting Portland.
"Just watching him offensively, he looks like he has an idea at the plate," said Portland manager Kevin Boles. "He looks like he has real good hands at the plate he's and he's playing well at third base. He had a lot of success in Salem and he's translating that into here. He's been terrific for us."
Cecchini was at .333 going into Saturday night's game against the Fisher Cats at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium and had reached safely in all six of his games and had hits in five of them.
He's learning, too.
On Friday night, the Sea Dogs, down a run, got their first two runners on in the top of the ninth and Cecchini decided to try and bunt them over to second and third and popped out in the process.
"I thought it gave us the best opportunity to win," Cecchini said. "It was on my own. They want me to hit there and now I know."
"We talked about that afterwards," he said. "He will be asked to bunt eventually. But we want to see him swing the bat. It's a credit to him, he wanted to give himself up for the team. But you see the offensive potential he has and the numbers he put up down in Salem and we want him swinging it, absolutely."
Right-handed power thrower Anthony Ranaudo, a top Red Sox prospect and perhaps on his way to Pawtucket soon, goes for the Sea Dogs against Fisher Cat righty Ryan Tepera today at 1:35 in the finale of the four-game series.
Fisher Cat manager Gary Allenson wouldn't mind seeing Ranaudo move up. Like yesterday.
"He needs to move up to the next level, in my opinion," Allenson said. "Don't be afraid (to move him up)."
Ranaudo went seven innings against the Fisher Cats on May 29 in Portland and allowed one hit, struck out eight and walked no one.
Ranaudo, 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds and a first-round pick in 2010, is 7-2 with a 2.28 earned run average. In 79 innings, he has given up 50 hits, struck out 86 and walked 27.
Kevin Pillar, the outfielder out of Division II, played the first half of the season with the Fisher Cats like he wanted to move up quickly in the organization.
He's playing that way still.
Pillar had 12 hits in his first eight games with the Triple-A Buffalo Bison through Friday night. Seven of those were doubles.
He was a one-man wrecking crew in a 5-4 win over the Gwinnett Braves on Wednesday night. Pillar had five of Buffalo's seen hits - four of them doubles - and scored the tying and winning runs.
For good measure, he also threw a runner out at the plate.
Pillar, 24 and drafted in the 32nd round out of Cal State Dominguez Hills in 2011, was hitting .364 through Friday night.
He hit .313 with five home runs and 30 runs batted in and had 15 stolen bases in 71 games with the Fisher Cats.
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