Cecchini, the 2010 fourth round pick who played shortstop in high school, is about as advanced a hitter there is in all of minor league baseball. He has one of the sweetest left-handed swings around, his plate discipline is off the charts, he has explosive bat speed, the power projects to be at least average or perhaps slightly better, and defensively he boasts plus arm strength and good range.
He hit a combined .322 with 94 walks [and 86 strikeouts] between high-A Salem and Double-A Portland last season, stole 23 bases, and had 47 extra-base hits, although just seven were home runs. He has a bit more power than his lowly home run total suggests and he probably won't be quite the base stealer considering he should fill out a bit more on his very projectable frame. He has the ceiling of a big league All Star third baseman and minor league production to back it up.
|POWER OF ONE: Garin Cecchini is the only legit Boston third base prospect. (Photo: Patrick Teale)|
Devers signed for $1.5 million and the early book on him is he has an advanced hitting approach, average big league power right now already as a soon to be 17-year old with long-term plus power potential, but the defense is going to take some time to develop. In fact there is already chatter that long-term he probably will have to move to first base or a corner outfield position.
Outside of Cecchini and Devers the Red Sox don't have anymore third base prospects with the ceilings of being big league starting third baseman. The Yankees on the other hand, while they don't have a high-ceiling third sacker like Cechinni producing at the upper levels yet, have a little more overall depth at third base even if that depth comes with various question marks about each player.
Eric Jagielo ranks as the top third base prospect in the Yankee farm system right now. Last year's top overall draft pick by the Yankees, the former Notre Dame standout has a huge offensive ceiling despite hitting just .266 with six home runs for short-season Staten Island last season.
A left-handed batter, he is a pronounced opposite field hitter with long-term above average, perhaps borderline plus power potential. He shows good patience at the plate and very good bat speed. Defensively, however, while he displays good range and footwork, the arm strength is more average than anything so he isn't a lock to stick at the position long-term. The bat is going to play though.
The next highest ceiling third baseman in the organization is Miguel Andujar, an 18-year old [he turns 19 in March] Dominican native who was the Yankees top International free agent signing back in 2011. A hitterish right-handed batter with a big, projectable frame, he hit .323 with four home runs in the Gulf Coast League last season. He has long-term plus power potential, shows plus arm strength, and great agility that could allow him to become a plus defender as he matures.
The one third base prospect who absolutely has the chops to not only stick at a power hitting position like third base but truly excel there is Peter O'Brien, New York's second round pick out of the University of Miami in 2012. A catcher by trade, the Yankees have been allowing him to play some third base to increase his versatility. He certainly has the plus-plus arm strength to play at third, and he shows surprising nimbleness and agility for a slugger, enough to potentially stick at the position, but there will be an obvious learning curve after playing there for the first time since high school. He also has a bit of swing and miss with the bat that will need to be toned down but, hitting 65 extra-base hits in 2013, he has power to spare.
Behind those three is Dante Bichette Jr., New York's first round pick in the 2011 draft. There is a lot of natural talent there, including above average power potential and obvious big league bloodlines, but the production has slipped early in his career. While the power continues to get better -- he hit a career-high eleven home runs in 2013 -- he still has long stretches of little production offensively, including hitting just .214 after repeating the low-A level. He has a lot of work to do in the consistency department to get back on the prospect radar but he should not be written off just yet either.
Matt Duran, another third base prospect selected by the Yankees in the 2011 draft [a third round selection], is another one with some natural talent that bears watching. Both a foot and elbow injury limited him to just six games in 2013 and that was bad news considering he had seemingly turned a corner late the year before. He also shows above average power potential and decent hitting potential when he uses the whole field, and solid defensive skills. He needs a return to health though.
The Yankees have a pair of other 'what if' candidates in Anderson Feliz, more of a natural second baseman however and doesn't really have the power potential to stick at third long-term, and Drew Bridges, last year's 20th round pick out of high school. Bridges is big-bodied and strong, and physically compares to top prospect Greg Bird, but while the batting potential is quite vast so are the question marks about his ability to stick at third given his size.
How Do They Compare In...
Power: Even if Peter O'Brien wasn't shifted over to third base last season the Yankees would still have an edge after drafting Jagielo, especially since Cecchini, Boston's best third base prospect, isn't exactly a plus potential power guy. But with O'Brien in the mix it is a clear-cut no contest situation. Advantage: Yankees
Hitting For Average: The Yankees have some potential big hitters in their group, headlined by Andujar and Jagielo, but both are still in the short-season leagues and still have a ways to go in their development. While the same can be said for Boston's Devers, the fact is Cecchini is a plus-plus hitter producing results at the higher levels and the Yankees don't have anyone like that. Advantage: Red Sox
Defense: Again, while the Yankees have some solid defensive third base prospects and Andujar has a realistic shot at being a standout, he isn't yet. Cecchini is. Advantage: Red Sox
Speed: New York's Miguel Andujar could wind up being an impact runner down the road, at least as much as a corner infielder can be, but Cecchini already is, even if conventional wisdom says he should slow down as he gets bigger. Still, he's the only viable threat in either organization. Advantage: Red Sox
Overall Potential: In most circumstances when it comes to prospecting the smart money says take the better depth over the lone high-end guy but some of that depth has to be showing something at the higher levels and the simple fact is none of the Yankee third base prospects has done that yet. Things could really change a year from now should Andujar making it to the long-season leagues and have some success, and if Jagielo just does what is expected from him in his first full season, but for now the Sox and Cecchini hold a clear edge over the Yankees given his production, ceiling, and ascension through the minor leagues. Advantage: Red Sox
Highest Ceilings: Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Garin Cecchini (Red Sox), Eric Jagielo (Yankees), Dante Bichette Jr., (Yankees), Rafael Devers (Red Sox)
Best Power: Peter O'Brien (Yankees), Eric Jagielo (Yankees), Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Garin Cecchini (Red Sox), Rafael Devers (Red Sox)
Best Average: Garin Cecchini (Red Sox), Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Eric Jagielo (Yankees), Rafael Devers (Red Sox), Matt Duran (Yankees)
Best Defense: Garin Cecchini (Red Sox), Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees), Matt Duran (Yankees), Eric Jagielo (Yankees)
Best Speed: Garin Cecchini (Red Sox), Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Eric Jagielo (Yankees), Matt Duran (Yankees), Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees)