MILWAUKEE -- The New Year means a new beginning for Garin Cecchini, a one-time hot prospect in Boston who spent the holidays with a family of baseball fans who share the same wish: A bounceback with the Brewers."New year, new start," Cecchini said, "New faces. New coaches. What a great
MILWAUKEE -- The New Year means a new beginning for Garin Cecchini, a one-time hot prospect in Boston who spent the holidays with a family of baseball fans who share the same wish: A bounceback with the Brewers.
"New year, new start," Cecchini said, "New faces. New coaches. What a great opportunity for myself."
Opportunity presented itself in the form of a trade between the Red Sox -- who'd designated Cecchini for assignment on Dec. 4 in order to sign free agent David Price -- and the Brewers, who sent cash to Boston in the swap. Cecchini was en route to his wedding rehearsal dinner when he was DFA'd.
The Brewers have an opening at third base, Cecchini's primary position, so they took a flyer on a player yet to celebrate his 25th birthday who is only two seasons removed from being one of baseball's top 100 prospects.
Cecchini set career lows across the board at Triple-A Pawtucket in 2015, hitting .213/.286/.296. But he has as good a chance as anybody at the moment with the Brewers, who also have an opening at first base, and are exploring their options in free agency and trades.
On paper, Cecchini is an option for either position.
"I know the Red Sox loved Garin and what he brought to the plate on and off the field," said his mother, Raissa Cecchini. "And that there was only one thing that would make him expendable: If he had the worst season of his life. And it happened.
"But I told him last year when he was going through this, 'There's a reason for everything. We don't know it now, but the reason will come forward.'"
Mom is not the only educated ally in the family.
Drafted by the Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2010 Draft, Garin Cecchini's younger brother, Gavin, went to the Mets in the first round two years later. Their parents were two-sport athletes at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette before coaching the boys' baseball team at Barbe High School in Lake Charles, La., with dad Glenn serving as head coach and Raissa coaching first base and becoming an expert on the mechanics and mentality of hitting.
Garin and Gavin Cecchini's cousin is Josh Prince, a speedy utility man who used to be a Brewers prospect.
"My family, they've supported me, always," said Garin Cecchini, who added a new member to the family last month by marrying his high school sweetheart, Katie. "They've been there at my highest point, and at my lowest low last year."
Garin and his mother agree on the problem last season: Garin tried to do too much at the plate in order to prove his worth to the Red Sox, who had just invested in free-agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval.
"The young guy in me said, 'Obviously I have to do more.'" Garin said.
"He tried harder, and harder wasn't better," said Raissa. "He dug deeper and deeper and deeper into a hole."
Milwaukee offers a fresh start.
"I haven't really looked too much into it yet," said Cecchini. "I'm sure I will once I get time. I've just heard that it's going to be a good opportunity for me. I play multiple positions, which is good in either league, but especially in the National League."
His versatility was born from necessity. Unable to grab hold of third base in Boston for himself, Cecchini watched from afar as the Red Sox signed Sandoval to a long-term contract last winter. With Sandoval entrenched at his position, Cecchini spent 2015 working on his defensive diversity, playing first base and left field. He even worked out in right field, though never saw action in a game.
Cecchini concedes he was blocked by the Sandoval signing, but said, "I took it as an opportunity, honestly. He's won, what, three championships? That's almost unheard of. So I just tried to learn from him in Spring Training, then focused on moving around so I could be an option for [the Red Sox] somewhere once I started hitting."
But he never started hitting.
"I think it's definitely a learning experience," he said. "I think there comes a time in everyone's career where you have that tough season. You have to learn and see how you come back from it. Next year is a good year for me to come back."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.