Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to talk with Sean Coyle and Garin Cecchini, two of the high-profile draftees the Boston Red Sox signed at last week’s draft signing deadline. Both players are working out in Fort Myers with Boston’s Rookie-Ball club.
A shortstop from Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pa., Coyle was selected by Boston in the third round of June’s draft (110th overall). At 5-foot-9, 175 pounds, Coyle projects to move to second base as a professional and has already drawn comparisons to Dustin Pedroia due to his surprising power and competitive drive. He had been committed to play for the University of North Carolina, but instead signed with the Sox for $1.3 million.
Cecchini also played shortstop in high school, for Barbe High School in Lake Charles, La. He had been projected as a first-round pick in early 2010, but his senior season was derailed due to an ACL injury and he ultimately slipped to the Red Sox in the fourth round (143rd overall). Already a well-rounded offensive and defensive player at the age of 19, Cecchini projects to move to third base in the Sox system. Previously committed to play for Louisiana State, Cecchini passed on college to sign with Boston for $1.31 million.
Here’s what Coyle and Cecchini had to say about their backgrounds in baseball, getting drafted by the Sox and looking forward to their professional careers.
Mike Andrews: By all accounts you’re both baseball lifers. Can you tell me about your backgrounds?
Sean Coyle: I grew up always playing baseball. My father played ball at the University of Pennsylvania and he has always coached my brother and I. My mother even used to throw us Wiffle balls in the back yard when we were little. Over the last few years, I’ve played summer ball with the Philadelphia Bandits, coached by Dave Amaro and my father. I also played fall ball with the All-Star Baseball Academy, coached by Mike Manning.
Garin Cecchini: I also started playing at a young age. My brother and I would always go up to the field to watch my parents coach the high school team and to watch all these great ballplayers like Joe Lawrence, Austin Nagle and Wade LeBlanc practice and play ball. All three have gone on to play professionally. Just watching them was really fun and that’s where my love of the game developed. I played travel ball all through junior high, and when I got to Barbe High School, I got to play for my dad for the first time.
MA: You both also played for the Under-18 travel team for Team USA last summer, right? What was that experience like?
SC: I’d say that was the highest level of competition I’ve ever played against.
GC: Team USA was great. I had a blast. We were playing with the best 17- and 18-year-old players in the country. I will never forget the experience I had playing for my own country and winning the gold.
MA: Can you elaborate on how you got picked for the team and who you played against?
GC: First we went to a “Tournament of Stars,” in June I believe, and from there players get selected for trials in September. The final roster gets picked right after trials. The GM, Rick Riccobono, makes the calls on who makes the final roster. When he called my name, I was really excited about going to play for my country. Going up for that spot, I’ve never faced better competition than that. We really had the best players in the whole country competing for nine positions.
SC: Right, they selected about 34 guys out of 144 to go to trials, and then narrowed it down to 20 from there. I ended up leading off and playing third base for the team. During the tournament, the best team we played was Cuba -- we beat them twice, including the Championship. The Championship game was a close game -- I think it was tied 0-0 through 7 innings -- but the thought of losing never crossed our minds. That attitude is what won us the game.
MA: When did you start getting attention from scouts?
SC: I'm not really sure when I started getting attention from scouts. They probably saw me play at the Perfect Game World Wood Bat tournaments in Georgia and Florida in 2007. But if I had to guess, I probably started getting serious looks at the Perfect Game nationals in Minnesota last summer.
GC: I actually started getting attention from scouts around my freshman year. We had Carmen Angelini playing for us, and he brought in a lot of scouts on his own. [Editor’s Note: Angelini now plays shortstop for Charleston, the Yankees’ High-A affiliate]
MA: Garin, I understand that you suffered an ACL injury during your senior year. Can you talk about how the injury occurred, what the rehab process was like and how it has affected your overall outlook?
GC: Yeah, I tore my ACL going back to first base on a throw from the catcher. I was trying to dodge the tag and my cleat got stuck in the dirt. The rehab process went great and I had no trouble doing any part of it. My knee feels exactly like my other knee, and I can do everything again now. You know, it did affect my overall outlook of the game. I can guarantee you that I will never take the game for granted. I’m not saying that I did before, I’m just saying that I plan on playing the game all out every day -- running out every ball and enjoying it every day because you and I never know when my last day out on a ball field could be.
MA: What was draft day like? Did either of you have any idea as to what would happen going in?
SC: Draft day was a lot of fun. Some of my close friends and my old high school coach, Jon Cross, came over -- we set up a computer and some speakers in my kitchen, watched and waited. I was pretty sure that I was going to be selected in the top five rounds, but the draft is really unpredictable so I was definitely on the edge of my seat.
GC: You know, draft day was great. It's every player’s dream to get drafted, and for me to achieve that dream -- it was just amazing. I had no idea going into the draft who was going to draft me or where in the draft I would get picked.
MA: When you found out that you were drafted by the Red Sox, what was your initial reaction?
GC: It was so surreal. I really couldn't believe it. I was hoping to get drafted by a team that could compete for a championship every year. When I heard my name called, I immediately looked up and there was a Red Sox logo right next to it! It was a dream come true. I mean, who wouldn’t want to play for this organization?
SC: My first reaction was really just amazement and excitement. I thought about the history of the organization and all of the greats that have played for Boston through the years. The thought of having the opportunity to play in the same organization as them was really something else. On top of that, I knew a lot about the Red Sox system before the draft. Chris Calciano, the area scout, did a great job of educating my family about the organization in general.
MA: Was the negotiation process difficult following the draft?
SC: The negotiation process wasn't as difficult as I expected it to be. I didn't have an adviser, so my family and I handled it all.
GC: I feel the same way -- the negation process wasn't too bad. The Red Sox knew that I was looking for mid-first-round money, and they ultimately offered something that was great for me.
MA: Sean, you’re already drawing comparisons to Dustin Pedroia. What do you think of those comparisons? What do you say to people who doubt you because of your size?
SC: I'm really flattered to be compared to a player of Dustin Pedroia's ability. I think the comparison really starts with size of course. We are both considered small in comparison to other players, especially other major league players. Also because he plays the game hard and the right way -- that is how I was always brought up to play. To the people that doubt me, I guess I'd have to say keep doubting because it's just another reason for me to work and play hard to prove them wrong.
MA: So now that you’re both in Fort Myers, do you expect to get in games this season? If so, at what position? Are you rooming together?
GC: I will be playing in about four weeks at Instrux [the Fall Instructional League] and then in the Dominican Republic later in the year. They plan on playing me at third base. Sean and I aren’t rooming together right now, but we will be for Instrux. He’s a great roommate -- we roomed together when we played for Team USA and we have gotten to be pretty close.
SC: I expect to see some game action down here. There's only about a week left in the regular season, but I've been playing all summer and I’m game ready. I've been taking reps at second base, so that is where I will be playing whenever I get onto the field. As far as the roommate situation, Garin and I are rooming next to each other now -- I’m rooming with Matt Price. But we’ll be roommates again in Instrux, which I’m looking forward to because he’s a lot of fun to be around and I'm glad that he's here with me.
MA: I know its early on, but what do you think will be your best asset as a professional baseball player, and what part of your game do you think you’ll need to improve the most?
SC: I'd probably say that my best asset will be my work ethic. And I'd say the thing I have to work on the most is my Spanish. I’m kidding. I think the aspect of my game that I'll have to work the most at is hitting for power with a wood bat.
GC: I feel like my best asset is hitting and the mental edge. The part I feel I need to work on most is getting better at moving a little bit faster to my left and right. That's what I'm going to work on the hardest this offseason.
Mike Andrews is the Executive Editor of SoxProspects.com and a special contributor to ESPNBoston.com.