Ht: 6’2″ Wt: 200 Level: AAA & MLB
B/T: R/R Age: 12/22/93 (23) Age Dif: -4.2 (AAA) & -6.6 (MLB)
Acquired: Selected in the first round (12th) of the 2012 Amateur Draft
Last year: #4
2016 MiLB Statistics: 117 G, 499 PA, 446 AB, 71 R, 145 H, 27 2B, 2 3B, 8 HR, 55 RBI, 4 SB, .325/.390/.448
2016 MLB Statistics: 4 G, 7 PA, 6 AB, 2 R, 2 H, 2 2B, 2 RBI, .333/.429/.667
Cecchini is just one of a number of shortstops in a loaded Mets farm system at the position. As previously discussed, there is Amed Rosario, who is nipping at Cecchini’s heels. There is Matt Reynolds, who has transitioned to becoming a utility player despite his having a good glove for the position. There are also top shortstop prospects like Luis Guillorme, Gregory Guerrero, and Andres Gimenez in the lower levels of the Mets farm system. With that in mind, the question has become what to to do with Cecchini.
Out of all of these shortstop, it appears Cecchini is the player best suited for a position change because he is very close to being major league ready, if not so already. He is stuck between Rosario and Asdrubal Cabrera, and he has also exhibited some defensive struggles at short.
Cecchini’s defensive troubles have been somewhat maddening because he has the tools to be a very good defender at the position. He has good range for a shortstop with a plus arm. Both are partially responsible for his struggles. With his range, Cecchini gets to some balls that other shortstops don’t, doesn’t get himself set, and he attempts to make a play. Additionally, he has an extremely strong arm, but he tends to rush throws that he: (1) shouldn’t make in the first place; or (2) didn’t need to rush. Throwing errors have been the overwhelming majority of all his errors.
The hope at least is that Cecchini’s issues will be abated by a transition to second base. Cecchini began that transition late in the 2016 season. Near the end of the season, Cecchini began working at second base, and he would play in three games at the position. During the Arizona Fall League, Cecchini also got a few reps at second base by Scottsdale Scorpions manager, and Mets first base coach, Tom Goodwin.
Speaking of the Arizona Fall League, Cecchini was one of the standouts not just on the Scorpions, but the entire league. In 16 games, he hit .295/.357/.459 with 12 runs, five doubles, a triple, home run, and seven RBI. This stint in the Arizona Fall League was just a part of a season where he continued his development as a hitter.
Cecchini has an advanced approach at the plate. He is a patient hitter that works the count well and is willing to draw a walk. He is good at identifying his pitch and trying to drive it somewhere. He is a a line drive hitter with a gap-to-gap approach at the plate.
As he matures and begins to fill out, some of his doubles could very well begin to turn into home runs. Overall, with Cecchini’s advanced approach at the plate and him still having some untapped offensive potential, you can see why the Mets are looking to transition him to another position.
Combining his offensive potential, his competitiveness, and his high baseball IQ, Cecchini may well force his way onto the major league roster at some point during the 2017 season. As is always the case with Cecchini, this will largely depend on his ability to show the Mets he can handle the middle infield defensively at the major league level.
Mike M adds…
I’m still a firm believer that Cecchini will hit well at the major level, even enough to provide value at second base. I also believe he has the tools to become an average defensive second baseman, which is likely his long-term future.
To me the question remains if it will be within the Mets organization that Cecchini becomes a productive big leaguer. The breakout of Amed Rosario would have likely moved Cecchini off shortstop regardless of defensive struggles. The Mets also have Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, Neil Walker, T.J. Rivera and Jose Reyes as current middle infield depth.
Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy answer to this question. While the best answer would be Cecchini would best be suited to being the Opening Day second baseman for the Las Vegas 51s, the Mets have not made any definitive pronouncements as to where he will play next year. Of course, that will depend in large part on where Rosario begins the 2017 season.
With the Mets new organizational philosophy of exposing prospects to new positions, we will assuredly see Cecchini at second base. However, we may also see him at short, third base, and the outfield. While the exposure to the new positions will create more opportunities for him to get called up to the majors, it may slow his development at second, if that is his ultimate destination.