One of the true surprises of this spring training has been the play of second baseman Gavin Cecchini. The Mets’ first round pick in the 2012 June draft has not exactly set the world on fire in his professional career so far. His slash line at Vegas last year was .267/.329/.380, a distinct regression from 2016, his first season at the AAA level. In a September call-up with the Mets last year he was bad, with a .208/.256/.273 slash line, not the kind of stats you want to see from a prospect.
In the off-season, the 24 year old Cecchini must have seen the writing on the wall, and he made some changes to his approach. As reported by Abbey Mastracco in N.J.com, Cecchini began video taping his swing and sending it on to new Mets’ hitting coach Pat Roessler for evaluation.
As a result, Cecchini has retooled his swing by closing his stance, changing his batting angle and getting more push off his back leg, among other changes. He also added some 15 pounds of muscle to his frame. The results so far in ST have been impressive, in ten games Cecchini has a .350/.458/.800 slash line with two homers and a stolen base.
The question is, do the Mets send him back to Las Vegas for a third season, or should he make the Mets’ roster? Cecchini’s best position is second base where he is an average to above average defender, but he has played third and short in the minors, although not as well as he performs at second.
The best approach, if Cecchini continues to hit anywhere near what he has this spring, might be to insert Cecchini into the regular line up at second and shift Asdrubal Cabrera into the utility infielder role now played by Jose Reyes.
Reyes will turn 35 this year, coming off a 2017 where he put up a .246/.315/.413 slash line. He is worse this spring with an ST line of .174/.240/.261, and his defense is not good. The Mets’ portion of his salary is not that high at two million. Reyes, with a lot of mileage on him, is not the future of the Mets. Cecchini just might be the present and the future.
Cabrera and Cecchini could fight it out for the second baseman slot, with the loser taking over the utility infield role, with Wilmer Flores also available on days when he is not playing first base.
At the start of ST this year, one of the big stories was the bulked up Juan Lagares with his new swing. So far, those changes have not panned out for Lagares. Cecchini was flying much lower under the radar, but his changes so far have yielded big pre-season dividends. It would not be shocking to see Cecchini play a key role for the Mets this year, and maybe for many years into the future.