Red Sox's Cecchini leads Saguaros' late comeback
Third baseman's RBI double opens door for five-run eighth inning
With Surprise looking to complete another late-innings comeback in the Arizona Fall League, third baseman Garin Cecchini stepped to the plate in the eighth inning Monday with the go-ahead run in scoring position.
Cecchini, a left-handed hitter, had seen nothing but left-handed pitchers all day. It would be no different in this at bat against Glendale reliever Edgar Olmos. But Cecchini was ready when Olmos left a pitch up and out over the plate, driving it to right field for an RBI double.
"Those were some tough lefties today," Cecchini said. "I just wanted to grind out at-bats. I was making adjustments from at-bat to at-bat and pitch to pitch. He threw a pitch I thought I could handle and I put a good swing on it."
Left fielder Mitch Haniger followed Cecchini with a three-run home run to cap a five-run eighth inning, and Surprise defeated Glendale, 9-6, at Camelback Ranch. The victory was the Saguaros' third in their last four games.
Cecchini finished the day 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run. He also struck out twice, something of a rarity for the Red Sox's No. 7 prospect.
After drawing 94 walks and striking out 86 times in 129 games this season between Class A Advanced Salem and Double-A Portland, Cecchini knows he has developed a reputation as a patient, disciplined hitter. Before striking out twice Monday, he had more walks than hits in 13 games this fall.
Cecchini said he doesn't go to the plate looking to work a walk. Instead, he wants to have a good at-bat and make life difficult for the pitcher. He credits the Red Sox and his parents for teaching him that approach.
"I want to be productive and make it tough on the pitcher that day," Cecchini said. "I always try to take it as the last at-bat of my life. I want to grind out at-bats every single day."
Helped by Cecchini's go-ahead double, the Saguaros scored seven runs in the game's final three innings. Center fielder Tyler Naquin, the Indians' No. 5 prospect, went 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs. Haniger, the Brewers' No. 12 prospect, finished the game 2-for-4 with a double to go with his home run.
The Saguaros have the league's highest scoring offense, which, Cecchini said, helps them believe they're never out of a game.
"Our offense is unbelievable," Cecchini said. "Everyone grinds out at-bats. It's a fun group to be with."
Surprise's late rally was enough to overcome a two-homer game from Glendale right fielder Yorman Rodriguez. The Reds' No. 15 prospect hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning to give the Desert Dogs the lead. He went deep again in the eighth inning, halving their deficit.
But Glendale could get no closer. Surprise added a run in the ninth and right-hander David Goforth closed out the victory with a scoreless inning. It was his fourth save, moving the Brewers' farmhand into a tie for the league lead.
Rodriguez finished the game 2-for-4 and has four home runs in 16 games this fall. Third baseman Colin Moran, the Marlins' No. 4 prospect, went 3-for-5 and scored two runs.
Cecchini hasn't always been the flashiest player in the AFL. He has a .391 on-base percentage and is hitting .250 with just three extra-base hits. But, like his approach at the plate, Cecchini is grinding out a productive fall.
"I'm not worried what I hit out here," Cecchini said. "I couldn't care less if I hit .400 or .100. I'm refining my defense, trying to get consistent there and be consistent on the bases and get great reads every single time.
"I want to stay with my offensive approach. I know it's been successful for three seasons and it'll stay successful in the future."