Catching Up With #1: Gavin Cecchini

For a second straight year, in 2012 general manager Sandy Alderson used his #1 pick in the June amateur draft to select a high school player.  This time, with the 12th overall pick he selected an 18-year old high school shortstop named Gavin Cecchini.

Mets scouting director Tommy Tanous described Cecchini as, “an offensive shortstop – does not give away much defensively“.

Sep 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; A fan watches from the second-to-last row of the stadium during the first inning of a game between the New York Mets and the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Just prior to being drafted, Gavin helped lead his team (Alfred Barbe H.S., Louisiana) to a state championship; he batted .413 with 7 home runs and 32 RBI in his final amateur campaign.

  • In 2012, Gavin Cecchini spent his first professional season with (R)-Kingsport (and 5 games with Brooklyn).  In 53 games and 191 at-bats he posted an inaugural .246/.311/.330/.641 slash, with 21 runs scored, 12 extra base hits, 18 walks, and 22 RBI.
  • In 2013 at age 19, he played 51 games for (short season-A)-Brooklyn.  In 194 at-bats Cecchini slashed a mild .273/.319/.314/.633, with 18 runs scored, 8 extra base hits, 14 walks, and 14 RBI.

He split the 2014 season between Savannah and Port St. Lucie (and played 1 regular season game for Binghamton, where he also saw limited post-season action).  To date, his effort in the South Atlantic League has been his best.

  • In 57 games and 228 at-bats for the (A)-Savannah Sand Gnats, Gavin slashed an improved .259/.333/.408/.741, with 25 walks, 42 runs scored, 24 extra base hits, and 25 RBI, while only averaging 1 strikeout every 9.3 at-bats.  His 17 doubles and 3 home runs were a welcomed sight as he had not homered since his rookie league season in 2012.  In the field he posted a .947 fielding average with 12 errors in 226 chances at shortstop.
  • Gavin Cecchini was then promoted and played in 68 games for (A+)-Port St. Lucie where his production suffered a slight down tick.  In 233 at-bats his slash dipped to .236/.325/.352/.677, with 32 walks, 36 runs scored, and 31 RBI.  On the positive side, he had a reduced 14.8 K% (vs. 15.8% at Savannah), and hit 5 more home runs to bring his season total to 8.  In the field he committed 15 errors in 231 chances for a reduced .935 fielding average.

After the 2012 season Baseball America promptly listed Cecchini as the Mets #2 prospect; after the 2013 season he slipped down to 9th.  Gavin is presently ranked #10 on this year’s MLB/Mets prospect watch.

Thoughts:

As with Sandy Alderson’s selection of Brandon Nimmo in 2011, the selection of Gavin Cecchini was received inquisitively by fans.  The brain trust’s motivation to select Cecchini, however, was perhaps understandable.

Outside of some offensive notoriety Wilmer Flores was gaining at St. Lucie and Binghamton, by 2012 the Mets minor league system had become particularly weak at middle infielder: Wilfredo Tovar was failing to distinguish himself, Daniel Muno faced a suspension, former #1 pick Reese Havens was in the midst of a disappointing minor league career, while Jordany Valdespin was too busy playing his way out of town.

The Mets largely relied on Ruben Tejada and the likes of Omar Quintanilla at short before finally taking a better look at Wilmer Flores this summer.  Nevertheless, shortstop remains an open audition.  Gavin Cecchini, however, is still a few years away from playing in Queens.

For now, the organization appears pleased with his ability, range, and arm strength at shortstop.  At the plate he makes sufficient contact, but has yet to satisfactorily fulfill the organization’s batting average, OBP, and modest slugging expectations; although, this past season was marked by improvements.

The Mets continue to regard Cecchini as a potential #2 hitter in the line-up, but he is clearly still a work in progress; patience is required.  He will turn 21-years old in December, so time is kindly still on his side.

It is hard to predict what the position of shortstop holds in store for the Mets in 2016 or beyond.  Outside of free agency or future trades, there is Wilmer Flores’ continuing tryout to consider, while Matt Reynolds‘ 2014 performance is also demanding the organization’s attention.

In the second round of the same 2012 draft, the Mets used their 3rd overall selection on Matt Reynolds – a college infielder.  Matt spent the rest of 2012 at Savannah and played the 2013 season with Port St. Lucie.

Matt Reynolds, 23, enjoyed a breakout 2014 season split between Binghamton and Las Vegas.  In 478 combined at-bats, Reynolds slashed .343/.405/.454/.859, with 87 runs scored, 34 extra base hits, 6 home runs, 61 RBI, 50 walks and 20 stolen bases.  Entering the 2014 season, Matt Reynolds wasn’t even listed on the MLB/Mets top 20 prospects watch, but is now ranked 20th.

Additionally, in 2014 shortstop Amed Rosario, 18, posted a .289  average and .337 OBP for Brooklyn, with 17 extra base hits.  It appears then sufficient talent exists within the system providing Gavin Cecchini with competitive pressure to start achieving higher levels of productivity.

That said, Gavin Cecchini along with Dilson Herrera, Amed Rosario, and Matt Reynolds, are the new middle infielders of the Mets minor leagues; leaving the bleaker outlook of early 2012 behind.

Previously:
Catching Up With #1: Brandon Nimmo

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