An Interesting Chat with Garin Cecchini

Recently, I had the pleasure of catching up with the Carolina League’s premier hitter thus far in 2013. Garin Cecchini currently has a .379 average and a .467 on-base-percentage, both being #1 in the circuit. He also plays the game with an infectious enthusiasm that has made him a fan favorite in Salem. His approach, demeanor, and energy are all a part of the package that could help him get to Fenway in the next couple years.

Here’s the unedited conversation:  

Evan Lepler: Baseball’s supposed to be a difficult game, and you’re making it look pretty easy at times. Have you surprised yourself with how well you’ve played so far this season?

Garin Cecchini: Um, yes and no. I just kinda started-something clicked with me with just trusting what God has blessed me with, the hitting ability and baseball instincts, and I just started letting go and trusting myself a lot more, and stuff just started clicking for me.

EL: How much are you thinking when you get to the plate these days or are you just simply reacting to the pitch?

GC: Yea, like I said, I just started trusting what God has given me, the blessings that he’s bestowed upon me. I’m not thinking really anything except hit the inside part of the ball and just get a good pitch to hit.

EL: After a couple games, you didn’t have a hit. Since then, you’ve been on fire. Was there any self-doubt after those first couple of games in a new league?

GC: Nope, because we had 140 left. It is a long season. You can’t get too high. You can’t get too down. You can’t ride the roller coast like they say. I’m just trying to take it day-by-day and live in the present day. That’s it.

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Garin Cecchini already has registered 15 multi-hit games for the Salem Red Sox this season.

 

EL: As a senior in high school growing up in Louisiana, you didn’t play much as a senior because of a torn ACL. Did you think you’d be going to college when that draft rolled around?

GC: Yea, no doubt. When I tore my ACL the 10th game of the season—we had a 40 game schedule that year—I was no doubt going to LSU. And then I got drafted by the Red Sox and everything’s history from there.

EL: After you signed, was it pretty clear that your brother was gonna go pro out of a high school too?

GC: Umm, I mean, barring injury, I thought he was gonna go pro, but he was stuck on going to Ole Miss too if he hadn’t gotten the money or the pick where he wanted to go. It all worked out for us, and we’re glad to be getting paid to play baseball.

EL: How close are you and your brother Gavin, who was the first round pick of the Mets last year?

GC: Really close. He’s in extended spring right now, so he’s kind of doing his own thing and we’re on different time frames.

EL: He must be jealous that you’re playing real games and he’s just doing practice.

GC: Yea, well he’s playing little intra-squad games and stuff like that, but yea, it’s kind of frustrating where he’s at right now, but I heard he’s doing really good, and he’s gonna be here someday.

EL: You and your brother—give me one thing that you’re better than him at and one thing that he’s better than you at.

GC: He’s better at all aspects of the game. He is. I’m not gonna lie. He’s a stud. I enjoy watching him play and I’m glad I’m his older brother. And I just try to teach him the mistakes I made throughout pro ball and my lifetime of playing baseball so far. But yea, he’s better than me.

EL: You’re a humble guy, but you’re not that humble. There must be one thing that you do better than him.

GC: I got a girlfriend, and he doesn’t. (laughs) So I’m better at relationships? I dunno.

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In just 29 games, Cecchini has four homers, matching his round-tripper total from 2012.

EL: I wanted to ask you about some of your national team experience. In high school, you played with Team USA, and you played with Sean Coyle. You also played with Bryce Harper. When you first met Bryce, did you think he’d be doing what he’s doing now?

GC: No doubt. When I first saw Bryce, we were in the same batting practice group, and the ball just comes differently off his bat. Obviously, he’s unbelievable in the big leagues right now. He had an unbelievable rookie season. Just a great guy, a great competitor, and I love watching him play. I loved playing on the same team as him because he took quality at-bats and hit the ball hard and took a great approach. It was awesome watching him play.

EL: When you played with the national team in high school, what was the coolest place you got to go?

GC: Venezuela. When we got to go to Venezuela, I thought it was very eye-opening for me because it was my first time outside the country. It was just really cool because you don’t ever get to see things like that in the United States. We were glad to be back in the United States when we came back beating Cuba in the championship game.

EL: Can you a share a non-baseball activity that you did in Venezuela that you really remember? Maybe something from an off-day or something outside of the stadium that really sticks with you.

GC: I’ll tell you a cool thing—well, it’s not cool—but it was our fourth game in Venezuela. We played like Argentina and a few other teams and beat them all. And then we played Venezuela on the fourth day. We always ate at the same exact restaurant every single day. We had this awesome fruit juice that they gave us for lunch. It was a 7 o’clock game, so we went and ate lunch their again, and then we were gonna head to the field. And Sean Coyle can vouch for this story. We got our food and we got our drinks, and I was ready to down my drink, and right when I’m about to down this fruit juice, I just smelled like 100% alcohol.  Tequila, or I don’t know what it was. But they spiked our drinks before the Venezuela game with alcohol. So I thought that was a pretty unique story.

EL: Did you spit it up?

GC: No-I didn’t [drink any]—I’ll tell ya, the bullpen might have drank some, but the position players didn’t. (laughs)

EL: And you guys ended up beating Venezuela right?

GC: Oh yea, we beat them! We didn’t lose one game in Venezuela. We had a really good team, and it was fun to play.

*****

Not long ago, some of Cecchini’s teammates were quizzed about his favorite tv show, his dog’s name, and other Cecchini trivia. Check out this hilarious video, edited together by our excellent multimedia intern, Emily Roberts!

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