By Jeff Louderback
With Will Middlebrooks and Jose Iglesias establishing themselves, and Xander Bogaerts rapidly ascending the farm system, the Red Sox are well-stocked with promising infielders for the long term. Two additional names with whom Red Sox fans will become more familiar combined for seven hits in advanced Single-A Salem’s 7-6 win over the Potomac Nationals.
Garin Cecchini, who was a fourth round pick out of high school in 2010, was 4-for-4 with two stolen basses and a run. Deven Marrero, who was a first round pick out of Arizona State last summer and is so highly regarded by the club that he participated in Major League spring training camp this year, belted three doubles.
The infield depth at the Major League level and throughout the farm system gives the Red Sox extreme flexibility in the short term and long term. Middlebrooks will likely switch to first base, even as early as 2014. Since Iglesias is showing that he can hit Major League pitching, and he is superb defensive shortstop, he can become a fixture there. Bogaerts can be moved to third base, and he has the athleticism to eventually transition to the outfield when Cecchini is Major League ready.
Cecchini is a rare third baseman who has plus speed. Last year, he stole 51 bases at low Single-A Greenville, where he batted .305 with a .827 OPS. Cecchini, who is 21, has yet to demonstrate power. He had four home runs and 62 RBI in 2012. Yet he is an adequate defensive third baseman who hits for average and is disruptive on the basepaths.
The 22-year-old Marrero batted .268 with 24 stolen bases in 248 at-bats at short-season Lowell last year after he was drafted and signed. The Red Sox decided to have him skip Greenville and open his first full season of professional baseball in the Carolina League.
With prospects like Marrero, Jose Vinicio (who is the starting shortstop at Greenville this season), Sean Coyle (the second baseman at Salem this year) and even Bogaerts, the Red Sox will have insurance in case Dustin Pedroia suffers an injury. And with a surplus of shortstops, the club can trade one in a package to get an impact player at another position.