Madras, Ore. has a population of just over 5,000. So when a player from there starts getting compared to Madras’ most famous resident—Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury—most coaches and scouts probably laughed to themselves and thought, "Yeah, right."
Center fielder Darrell Ceciliani will get the last laugh, though, because the comparisons hold up and he’s playing his way into the top five rounds as a freshman at Columbia Basin (Wash.) CC.
Coming from Madras, in rural central Oregon, Ceciliani (pronounced SIS-lee-on-ee) didn’t play for travel teams growing up, instead spending his summers working on his family’s cattle farm. A broken hand his junior year of high school moved him even further off the radar, and he committed to Columbia Basin after developing a relationship with associate coach Jeremy Beard.
Upon graduation from Madras High, Ceciliani spent a little bit of time with the Bend Elks in the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League last summer before heading to Columbia Basin. Beard said that, with the way their field is positioned and how the wind blows, they’ve learned that their best outfielder should be in right field, which is where Ceciliani has spent most of his time this spring. However, he does have the speed and instincts to cover some ground in center field at the pro level.
Like Ellsbury, Ceciliani is 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds. He bats and throws lefthanded and is up at the plate looking to put the ball in play and use his above-average speed (6.58 seconds in the 60-yard dash) to get on base. In the first 32 games of wood-bat NWAACC play, Ceciliani is batting .390 with two homers (the team has just nine), and his 26 RBIs ranks third in the conference. He also had just four strikeouts in 82 at-bats.