Lowell Spinners third baseman Garin Cecchini
is a player of undeniable physical ability. Boston's fourth-round pick in the 2010 Draft and the 10th-ranked player in the organization by Baseball America
has a nice left-handed swing, good power and enough arm strength to man the hot corner.
As Cecchini progresses through the system, however, those physical tools will be supplemented by a talent that is more mental in nature: his ability to maintain a disciplined approach at the plate.
"What we're focused on here," he said, "is developing quality at-bats. Don't worry about the result, worry about having professional at-bats, and that's what I'm worried about.
"Seeing the ball, laying off those curveballs in the dirt, laying off the changeups in the dirt, getting a good pitch, putting a good swing on it and wherever it goes, it goes. It's in someone else's hands."
Spinners hitting coach Rich Gedman, a former Major League catcher who played 13 seasons with the Red Sox, Astros and Cardinals, praised Cecchini's maturity in sticking with his approach.
"I think sometimes when you play with some older kids who may be a little bigger and a little stronger, maybe hit some home runs, you feel pressure to feel like you have to match them," said Gedman. "He doesn't. He has a good approach. Plays the ball through the middle of the field, stays behind the ball very well, and the more pitching he sees, both left and right, the better he's going to get.
"He has limited experience but high-end tools, especially at the plate."
Through 29 games in Lowell, the 20-year-old Cecchini is hitting .282 with three home runs, a .368 on-base percentage and 12 steals. His 11 doubles lead the team, and his 21 RBIs are second behind Boss Moanaroa. Most importantly, he has rebounded after a slow start in which he hit .200 in 10 games in June.
"I had a great extended spring, and then when I came here I felt like I had good quality at-bats -- I was just jumping at the ball a little bit," Cecchini said. "The game was speeding up. A 90 mile an hour fastball was looking like 110. Now, [I'm] slowing stuff down, slowing my hands down, seeing the ball and just hitting it, because I have to trust my swing.
"I feel like my swing is good enough, don't think about anything but seeing the ball and hitting the ball. That's what I'm doing right now and it's working out."
Cecchini's recent results serve as an example of his ongoing adjustment to professional baseball. He had two hits, including a three-run homer and a double, in Lowell's 11-5 win at Brooklyn on Monday afternoon, and four hits Tuesday against Vermont. He currently has a seven-game hitting streak.
In the end, Cecchini knows that while the numbers may ebb and flow, staying consistent with his approach is the most important thing he can do at this point in his career.
"The stats say whatever they say," he said. "But I'm having quality at-bats and that's what matters."
Fast mover: Left-hander Rinku Singh, the first Minor Leaguer born in India, was promoted to State College on July 8. He appeared in four games for the Spikes, allowing two earned runs on 10 hits and striking out seven in 8 1/3 innings before advancing to Class A West Virginia on July 14.
Hobgood getting well: Matt Hobgood, the fifth overall pick in the 2009 Draft, is with Aberdeen on a rehab assignment. The 20-year-old right-hander made his first start for the IronBirds last Saturday, allowing two earned runs on five hits while striking out three in four innings. He is recovering from a strained rotator cuff.
One and done: New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes made a rehab appearance with the Brooklyn Cyclones on Monday, leading off and finishing 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored in an 11-5 loss to Lowell. He was back in the Mets lineup the following night, picking up two hits in five at-bats to raise his league-leading average to .355.