Baseball America

Lots to Love on the Left For Sox

BOSTON—This season was fascinating for homegrown prospect depth on the left side of the infield. Jose Iglesias proved a surprise contributor during the summer before getting traded. Will Middlebrooks had some impressive moments in an up-and-down year. Xander Bogaerts made his much-anticipated big league debut in August and became a force in the postseason.

While those three players made their impact in the big leagues, third baseman Garin Cecchini performed at a level that suggested he’s not too far behind. The 22-year-old dominated in high Class A Salem, hitting .350/.469/.547 to force a midseason promotion to Portland. In Double-A, the 2010 fourth-rounder hit .296/.420/.404.

His cumulative .443 on-base percentage was tops in the minors. Though he had just seven homers (to go with 33 doubles and seven triples) in 129 games, evaluators believe that he has the potential to build on that total.

“He’s got a great barrel,” one American League scout said. “He has an uncanny ability to square the baseball. The big question is will the power come.”

With or without power, he’s still regarded as a likely future everyday player based on his ability to hit for average and get on base, as well as the strong baseball instincts that allow him to transform average speed into above-average baserunning. His defense at third seemed to plateau a bit in 2013, but scouts think Cecchini can be average at the position.

Though Bogaerts and Middlebrooks create obstacles for Cecchini at third, the minor leaguer isn’t worried about a logjam.

“It’s a really good thing to have, not only on a player standpoint but on a Red Sox standpoint,” said Cecchini, who recalled playing left field on a Team USA squad that featured Manny Machado at shortstop. “Be an athlete. Go to other positions. Help the team win . . .

It’s a good problem to have. It makes your team better.”

SOX YARNS

Utility infielder Heiker Meneses, who hit .253/.312/.343 in Double-A and Triple-A as a 22-year-old in 2013, started catching in instructional league and is playing some outfield in the Venezuelan League.

Lefthander Gabe Speier, an 18-year-old taken in the 19th round by the Red Sox, underwent Tommy John surgery in September.