Jose Vinicio wasn't quite this young when the Red Sox signed him, but it's close. (Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE)
Last time we looked at Greenville, Blake Swihart, Matt Barnes, and Henry Owens were discussed. The plan this year is to provide more prospect coverage, and more often, so this time around we have three different Drive players to check in on. Unlike last week's group, made up of 2011 first rounders, these three were acquired at different times, and through different methods.
Garin Cecchini hit well for the Low-A Lowell Spinners in 2011, but injury held him to just 133 plate appearances and 33 games on the season. Even with that, it's hard to find fault with a .298/.398/.500 line from a 20-year-old in their first taste of professional baseball, especially when they have nearly the same number of walks (17) as strikeouts (19).
His 2012 hasn't started out as well, with the third baseman showing some patience, but little else. He's hitting .246/.338/.298 after 65 plate appearances, and has already struck out 14 times, or 22 percent of the time. Now, that's not a problematic rate, and it's not unexpected given his promotion. But you'd still like to see it come down given he's just in Single-A, and things won't get easier from here.
In a "perfect world", Kevin Goldstein thinks Cecchini has star potential at third. With Will Middlebrooks raking at Pawtucket and next-in-line to get to the hot corner in the majors, Cecchini has plenty of time to get his affairs in order at the plate. And, of course, the old April staple of "it's early" applies.
Jose Vinicio is a prospect who was, until recently, not on a whole lot of Red Sox fan radars. That's because he was signed when he was 16, and has, until this year, played in Rookie League only. His first full-season assignment is off to a great start, though, as the 18-year-old shortstop is hitting .275/.370/.450 in 12 games.
He's a switch-hitter who has looked more natural with his swing from the left side, and his approach needs work -- not surprising given he's 18 -- but things are coming together nicely this season. Defensively, he's still a project -- he's made six errors already this year -- but he has "outstanding" defensive tools according to Sox Prospects, and if he could stop rushing defensively at the position, forcing errors, he could turn out to be productive with the glove.
He's the kind of player the Red Sox can take a long time developing if they want to. Mike Aviles is at short now, and Jose Iglesias is expected to come in behind him as the starting shortstop at some point in the future. As long as Iglesias doesn't falter entirely, that gives Vinicio plenty of time to refine his game and turn those tools into production on both sides of the ball.
It might take some time, too, as he's listed at just 160 pounds -- it's going to be hard to hit those offensive projections without filling out, but he's certainly got the time to do so.
Jordan Weems was the second catcher selected by the Red Sox in the 2011 draft, with Boston picking him #111 overall in the third round. Not a whole lot of information was released at the time he was picked, and he didn't do much in his 52 plate appearances of Rookie ball to remind people he existed. But he's at Greenville in 2012, and while he's hitting just .088, his line has some interesting points.
Weems has already walked 10 times, and struck out 11 times. In order for the latter figure to drop, he'll likely need to cut out getting as many of the former, too. (Insert "it's early, though" here.) He's not projected to be a force offensively, as he was drafted for his defense behind the plate -- basically the opposite of Blake Swihart. He could fill out and be too large for backstop, though, as he's all of 19 years old. Thankfully, his bat doesn't project poorly, it's just not the primary focus for what he could be. He's an intriguing name, mostly because he's young and raw enough for us to not know just what he'll become.