Legends On Deck

Prospects On Deck: Gavin Cecchini- Mets

As the 12th pick overall in the 2012 MLB draft, which happened to be the second draft run by the current Mets’ front office headed by Sandy Alderson, Gavin Cecchini has always had a rocky relationship with many Mets fans. Despite being a natural shortstop with offensive potential, much of the Mets faithful considered him to be a “safe” pick; one with little upside, almost certainly not able to even approach the lofty standards set by Jose Reyes, who had just departed via free agency during the previous offseason.

However, Gavin Cecchini, who’s brother Garin had been selected by the Red Sox two years earlier in the 4th round, had the faith of the Mets front office despite suffering through a somewhat rocky start to his minor league career. Now, as a 21 year old, Cecchini may have finally broken out in Double A Binghamton this season, getting off to a .325/.381/.506/.887 start with two HRs through 22 games, hitting his second HR of the season Monday night despite Binghamton losing 4-3.

Immediately after being drafted out of Barbe High School in Lake Charles, Louisiana, (exactly one pick after the A’s selected another high school shortstop named Addison Russell, who happened to start at second base for the Cubs in the big leagues against the Mets on Monday night) Cecchini was assigned to the Appalachian League where, as an 18 year old, he slashed a disappointing .246/.311/.330/.641 in 53 games.

In 2013, for the Brooklyn Cyclones, he improved on his batting average somewhat, but his OPS dropped, as he slashed .273/.319/.314/.633 in 51 games. In each of his first two seasons, Gavin only hit one HR, and despite having a solid defensive reputation, had failed to stand out as a prospect in any way. Although he was still very young, he was already considered a disappointment by many quick to judge followers. Mets fans began publically questioning the pick, wishing that their highly esteemed, yet then rebuilding front office decided to pick a higher upside prospect with that pick, such as pitcher Lucas Giolito, shortstop Corey Seager, pitcher Michael Wacha, or pitcher Marcus Stroman, each of whom was selected in the ten picks following the Mets’ selection of Cecchini.

However, in 2014, Cecchini began showing signs of what made him the 12th pick overall in a solid 2012 draft. Starting the season in Savannah, the Mets’ A- ball affiliate, he slashed .259/.333/.408/.741 in his first 57 games. Raising his BB% to 9.7%, up from 6.6% the season before, as well as hitting three HRs (more than he had hit previously in his entire minor league career), Cecchini surprised many in his first taste of full season minor league ball.

After being promoted halfway through June to Hi- A ball, he initially struggled to adjust to the more advanced level. However, in his last 30 games and 98 ABs, he heated up tremendously, slashing .286/.403/.459/.862. His total OPS in Hi-A was only .677, but Gavin clearly adjusted as the season wore on, and performed very impressively for someone his age, especially in August. He showed even more patience with an BB% of 11.8% in Hi-A, while striking out only 14.8% of the time, lower than his first half K% of 15.8% in Savannah, and indicative of a solid contact hitter.

Between two levels in 2014, Cecchini slashed .247/.328/.378/.707 with an impressive eight HRs, finally showing some of the power potential that was expected when drafted. His eight HRs and .131 ISO were very good for a 20 year old shortstop, and were certainly large improvements over his past performance.

In 2015, after being promoted to Double A, which is often dubbed the make-or-break level for prospects, the now 21 year old Cecchini didn’t miss a beat from his hot August that closed his 2014 season. His slash line of .325/.381/.506/.887, as well as his impressive 7/6 K/BB ratio, is indicative of Gavin’s patience at the plate and strong all around game. His .181 ISO shows very strong power for a young SS, and his K% under 9% so far shows his strong contact ability. Both of those marks may very well regress as the season progresses, as he’s only played in 22 games so far. However, I think the 21 year old is clearly starting to show his strong potential, which began to appear in 2014 after two rough seasons to begin his minor league career.

His offensive numbers are even more impressive coming from a sure-handed, rangy shortstop, who projects to be at least average defensively in the big leagues, and possibly better at short, the premier infield position. Barring a complete offensive collapse by Cecchini, he should be included in most, if not all of the midseason Top 100 prospect lists in my opinion, as I would probably even slot him in the Top 75.

Despite Wilmer Flores also homering on Monday night (like Cecchini in Double A), Flores has clearly struggled in the field this season, with seven errors so far in only 25 games. It appears that Matt Reynolds, who is hitting very well in Triple A, should be ahead of Cecchini on the shortstop depth chart for 2015 if Flores’ defense becomes unbearable. However, entering the 2016 season, Cecchini may very well be the Mets’ best candidate for the starting shortstop gig, and it will be interesting to see what Alderson’s front office will do, as they have been shuffling shortstops since letting go of their previous franchise cornerstone Jose Reyes after the 2011 season.

Out of the three Mets’ shortstops listed above (Flores, Reynolds, and Cecchini), most would consider Cecchini to be the best defender, and he may also have the most upside as an overall player, despite Flores’ powerful bat. From a previous early first round selection who was labeled too “safe” of a pick in many fans’ eyes, Gavin Cecchini has definitely positioned himself as a valuable prospect, and is definitely someone to keep an eye on. As his recent progression in almost all significant categories shows, he’s certainly a youngster on the rise.

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Steve is a diehard baseball fan (Lets Go Mets!) who lives in New Jersey. Originally from Brooklyn, he graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor's Degree in Economics. Steve loves to focus on the sabermetrics side of baseball. He is also an avid music listener, and is always willing to debate pressing topics on Twitter.

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