Why Gavin Cecchini is someone to watch

Since Matt Harvey was promoted last year, all of the hype in the Mets’ farm system has been around Zack Wheeler. Then, after the big trade with Toronto, suddenly prospect hounds for the Mets had three new promising guys to focus on in addition to Wheeler. So a player who could be experiencing some buzz has gotten lost in the shuffle.

Gavin Cecchini – who was the 12th overall selection in the 2012 draft – is the team’s number two prospect behind Wheeler according to Baseball America – keep in mind the BA list was created before the Dickey trade – and someone who has a great chance at being a future staple in the Mets’ infield. My fellow Mets360 writer David Groveman didn’t like him at the number two spot in December, but Cecchini could prove him wrong.

The 19-year old shortstop – drafted out of Alfred M. Barbe high school in Louisiana – took a $2.3 million contract from New York rather than attend the University of Mississippi; a risky move, but one he and his family must have been confident in. His family would know best if the decision was a smart one. Baseball runs in the family. His father was the coach at Alfred M. Barbe and his brother Garin was drafted by the Red Sox in 2010.

Cecchini is a hit for contact type player who can steal a bag, but he will need to improve upon his .629 OPS from last season if he wants to move up in the Mets organization. He only logged 58 games and 218 plate appearance in ’12 so he has plenty of time to improve offensively. He’ll begin the season with the Brooklyn Cyclones and work with batting coach Bobby Malek to hopefully work out some kinks and find his stroke.

Cecchini is high on BA’s prospect list for his defense. Coming out of the draft, his defense at short sat only behind ‘12 number one overall pick Carlos Correa, which speaks highly for Cecchini and his glove work. He has good range, solid footwork and works the double play well.

If he can develop more pop in his bat and continue to improve upon his already above-average defense he could be the future starting shortstop at Citi Field.

He projects to start for the Mets as early as 2016, which is a fair time line for the youngster, but he’ll need more professional playing time so the organization can take a real good look at him.

The Mets would need to figure out what to do with Ruben Tejada and Wilfredo Tovar in order for Cecchini to start as early as 2016.

Tejada isn’t scheduled to hit free agency until 2017, but a transition over to second base to make way for Cecchini is a possibility and could suit Tejada.

Tovar could get a look at shortstop for the Mets before Cecchini does thanks solely to seniority and a nice glove. He was ranked as the best defensive infielder amongst Mets prospects, but he reads as a utility player to me. He has four more years of professional experience than Cecchini, but his offensive numbers aren’t too impressive (career .649 OPS in the minors). Yes, Cecchini came under Tovar’s career OPS in his first season of professional ball, but with more seasoning his offensive numbers should improve well beyond that.

He may not be the next Jose Reyes, but Cecchini is the next promising shortstop for the organization in my opinion and I think he has the baseball knowledge, talent and skills to make it to and stick with the big league squad in the future. Keep your eye on him folks.

Check out this video of Cecchini from the Under Armour All-America 2011:

8 comments for “Why Gavin Cecchini is someone to watch

  1. January 25, 2013 at 8:52 am

    I was not a fan of the Cecchini pick when it was made. Nothing he did in his first pro season changed my mind. While I recognize the chance for him to make a step forward, I honestly would not rank him as one of the team’s top 20 prospects right now. I would love to hear from a Cecchini backer what they think his best-case and most-likely scenarios are.

    I think the best-case scenario is 2012 Jimmy Rollins — 30 SB, above-average defense and a 98 OPS+
    Most likely-scenario is 2010 Alcides Escobar — double digit steals, above-average d and a 66 OPS+

    Finally, that might be the least-impressive highlight reel I’ve ever seen for a first-round pick. I haven’t played SS in over 20 years and I could have fielded all of those balls. Then they showed 11 swings patched together from several different hitting sessions and less than half of them were well hit. Off batting practice pitches.

    • January 25, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      I, for one, would eagerly watch the highlight reel of modern-day Brian trying to get to all those balls. It’s gold, Jerry! GOLD!

      • January 25, 2013 at 1:55 pm

        The only one that would be tough would be the ball he had to charge. And all I said was that I could field the balls, so I could even sit there patiently and wait for it to get to me.

    • January 30, 2013 at 1:27 am

      I think a reasonable “success” scenario for Cecchini might be something like Rafael Furcal (probably with fewer SB, but conceivably with a better AVG/OBP if the most optimistic scouts are right):

      Three-time all-star; career .281/.346/.403 hitter (100 wRC+) with 5-15 HR per year, an above average bat for a SS; never won a gold glove but a very solid defender; never regarded as a superstar but quietly one of the most consistently valuable players of the 00’s.

      Furcal will retire with a much larger career WAR than Ryan Howard, to the disbelief of those who think RBIs are the chief judge of a hitter’s talent.

      • January 30, 2013 at 8:06 am

        That’s a distinction in search of a difference.

        I said: 2012 Jimmy Rollins — 30 SB, above-average defense and a 98 OPS+
        Rafael Furcal — good speed, good defense, lifetime 96 OPS+

        Geez Louise – it would have been harder to come up with a *closer* comp if you tried

        • January 30, 2013 at 10:07 am

          I was trying to come up with a decent career comp rather than just one season. And Rollins is a different type of hitter, high power, low OBP.

  2. Chris F
    January 25, 2013 at 10:45 am

    I cant see any chance he will be displacing Tejada, who will only continue to cement his position as a solid everyday MLB ss. Im mystified by this pick still, and reminds me that we should consider going “all in” on Bourn for 5/70 and forget the 1st round pick.

  3. Chavez06
    January 26, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Best case scenario for me: Tejada continue to develop as a solid/but not flashy MLB shortstop. I could see Tovar developing into a starter much like Tejada, with superior D and slightly better speed, but a weaker bat. Tovar’s contact skills could make him a good #8 hitter. If Tovar develop into a starter, Tejada will have plenty of trade value in couple of years. Cecchini could slot over to 2B and the Mets could have very nice d-play combo for years to come. Of course, this is the best case scenario.

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