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.
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: