A year and a half ago, my first article after joining MMO was about shortstop Gavin Cecchini, saying that he wasn’t as bad as people say, I wasn’t wrong, but it didn’t exactly show until this season.
Cecchini wasn’t really a player that jumped off the page when he was selected, especially as a first round pick who was looking for an offensive threat, which quite frankly, Gavin did not seem to be. People inside the organization lauded his makeup and his willingness to work hard, but many were concerned with the lack of power. At the time, Cecchini was rated as a future 40 on the scouting scale, or in other words, 10-15 home runs annually.
After being drafted at 18 years old, he hit .240/.307/.330, with 12 extra base hits, appearing only as a designated hitter in 58 games between Kingsport and Brooklyn. The following season he hit .273/.319/.314, with 8 extra base hits (all doubles) as a 19-year-old shortstop in Brooklyn. Not exactly eye-popping.
After that performance, his stock dropped and experts moved him down their prospect lists due to the lack of one loud tool: power. He can field, he has range, his baserunning is rather raw, his arm is above average, his bat is projected to be in the .280 range as a major leaguer, but many were down on him because he seemed to be lacking power to drive in runs, including me (who dropped him to #14 on my top 25 at the end of last year, and only that because he was a first round pick).
I was very pleased by Cecchini’s performance this season as a 20-year old. To the naked eye, he still may not appear very impressive. He is having defensive lapses, and not hitting well average-wise. To this date, he is hitting .249/.330/.386 through both Class-A Savannah and Advanced-A St. Lucie. However, while his average isn’t doing his performance justice, he is hitting the ball harder and much better than most give him credit for.
In Savannah, he batted .259/.333/.408, with a big spike in percentage of extra base hits. He had 24 extra bases in 259 plate appearances or 3 times as many as he had in Brooklyn (a better hitter’s park) the previous season. And he did it at Grayson Stadium, the worst hitters park in the minor leagues.
When he was promoted to St. Lucie, Cecchini initially hit a wall, hitting .190/.256/.254 through his first 35 games. In the next 17 games however, he batted .340/.458/.566 with a 14/2 BB/K ratio. He has upped his Hi-A averages to .236/.327/.326 whit five home runs, including a two grand slams, one that went high over a green monster replica a few days ago.
I asked a Mets official about his progress and this is what he said:
“Gavin is continuing to develop. After an initial hiccup, he has made some nice adjustments at the plate in St. Lucie. The results have been there over the last few weeks. He has gotten a lot stronger from last year. Consequently the ball is jumping off his bat better than anticipated. He is still young, so you’ll still see some mistakes. That’s all part of the development process.”
Overall this season, he has totaled 24 doubles, 3 triples and 8 home runs for a total of 35 extra-base hits. Believe it or not, that would be top 10 for shortstops if he were posting the same numbers in the Major Leagues. In fact, he would be tied for 10th in extra base hits with shortstops like Yunel Escobar, Jed Lowrie, and Jose Reyes, and his OPS would rank 7th overall. His overall stats would get him ranked top 10 overall in almost every category except batting average, but even that is trending up.
His stats are more impressive than people have realized. After initially struggling at a new level, as many prospects do, he has adjusted and turned the corner. Look for an even better season in 2015, with a good chance of a breakout in batting average. I expect he’ll start showing the overall skills that will validate why he was selected in the first round by the New York Mets. He might be our future shortstop after all, and this is coming from a huge Amed Rosario fan.