MMO 2018 Top Mets Prospects 20-18: Cecchini’s Big League Future Isn’t Clear

This is the sixth installment of the Mets 2018 top 50 prospects here at MetsMerized. Links to previous lists can be found at the end of this article.

No. 20 – 3B David Thompson

Ht: 6’0″  Wt: 210 lbs   2017 Level: Binghamton Rumble Ponies

B/T: R/R   Age: 8/28/93 (24)   Age Dif: -1.2

Acquired: 4th Round of the 2015 Draft from the University of Miami

2017 MiLB Stats: 133 G, 529 PA, 62 R, 125 H, 29 2B, 1 3B, 16 HR, 68 RBI, 8 SB, 6 CS, 40 BB, 92 SO, .263/.325/.429

There was reason for excitement surrounding Thompson’s bat when he was drafted, as he set the single-season home run record in his high school’s history, and he was projected as potentially being a 30+ home run hitter in the Majors. His performance has been respectable but underwhelming in that respect, in that he looks more like a future 10-15 home run hitter. He improved both his walk rate and strikeout rate in 2017, but his power failed to make any significant leaps despite transitioning out of the tough pitchers’ league in High-A.

Being 24 years old already and having already accrued 1300 minor league plate appearances, it’s unlikely that he will ever fulfill his original projections, but 2018 will be a critical year to see if he’s reached his full potential, or if he can use his large frame to tap into the power he was projected to have. He has good contact skills and doesn’t strike out much, but he also doesn’t walk much, so he’s going to have to add a little more power if he wants to become a Major League third baseman.

Defensively, he has about a 45-50 grade arm and has made strides over time in becoming more steady at third. It will be interesting to see if he can make use of the notoriously hitter-friendly Cashman Field in 2018 to make any big strides with the bat.

No. 19 –  2B Gavin Cecchini

Ht: 6’2″  Wt: 196 lbs   2017 Level: Las Vegas 51s/New York Mets

B/T: R/R   Age: 12/22/93 (24)   Age Dif: -3.4

Acquired: 1st Round of 2012 Draft from Alfred M. Barbe High School (CA)

2017 MiLB Stats: 110 G, 497 PA, 68 R, 121 H, 27 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 39 RBI, 5 SB, 4 CS, 40 BB, 61 SO, .267/.329/.380

The former 1st round pick, picked in the same draft as young star shortstops Corey Seager and Carlos Correa, has had a relatively disappointing career thus far. He was originally seen as having a very well-rounded profile, with soft hands, good instincts and a strong arm at shortstop while hitting for contact and developing more power as his frame filled out. Cecchini had very underwhelming offensive numbers in the lower levels of the minors while being so-so defensively due his lack of refined footwork and wild arm.

He had a breakout year in 2015 when he won the Eastern League batting title while hitting .317/.377/.442. He did, however, still make too many errors at short, with 28 that year up from his previous career high of 27 the year before. He continued to combine great contact skills with a fine walk rate and respectable power into 2016 in Triple-A, where he had a career-high .838 OPS and struck out only seven more times than he walked. Still, he made way too many errors (a whopping 33) and overall looked uncomfortable at the position, thus prompting a move to second.

While he made a nice transition to playing second base, his offense took a step back, with just a .709 OPS in Las Vegas and a .529 OPS in 82 Major League plate appearances, and the Mets’ limited use of him off the bench despite being completely out of the playoff picture indicates that they may have given up on him. I personally believe they were too quick to give up on him, but it’s true that there are still questions about his defense despite looking solid at second and his fairly limited offensive upside profiles better for a shortstop than a second baseman.

Still, former 1st round picks should at least get a good look in the Majors, and the playing time Cecchini received was very sporadic and inconsistent, which is something that can mess with a young player’s head and hinder his development. He may have had a down year in Triple-A, but his potential cannot be solely based on those numbers alone, as he has shown the ability to hit for strong gap power in the past and seems to have his head on straight in the field now. He’s a strong bounce-back candidate for 2018, as now that he has gotten comfortable to his new position, it will be helpful to spend a year in Vegas and focus on getting his swing back. He wouldn’t have just been drafted in the first round for no reason.

It’s easy to have doubt in Cecchini, and 2018 will be a big year to see if he can blossom into a major leaguer. I wouldn’t call him a bust yet, but with a choppy swing, shaky defense and mixed minor league numbers, his future with the Mets looks a little misty. In fact, with the Mets’ recent signing of Adrian Gonzalez, they will have to clear a 40-man roster spot, and Cecchini is one of the prime candidates to possibly be cut.

No. 18 – RHP Jordan Humphreys

Ht: 6’2″  Wt: 223 lbs   2017 Level: Columbia Fireflies/St. Lucie Mets

B/T: R/R   Age: 6/11/96 (21)   Age Dif: -0.9

Acquired: 18th Round of the 2015 Draft from Crystal River High School (FL)

2017 MiLB Stats: 10-1, 1.79 ERA, 0.868 WHIP, 13 G, 13 GS, 80.2 IP,  12 BB, 83 K, 1.3 BB/9, 9.3 K/9

The 18th round pick has surprised in his brief minor league career, putting up eye-popping numbers in terms of striking out a lot of guys and limiting walks, hits, and home runs. His best pitch is his fastball, which is not overpowering, but he throws it consistently for strikes around 90-92 mph and has used it to produce a surprisingly high amount of swings and misses in the minors. He also has a changeup and a curveball, both of which are still works in progress but have been improving over time.

Despite the fantastic numbers Humphreys has put up, his stuff is more indicative of a future back-end starter at the Major League level. His command, intelligence and work ethic have all been praised by scouts though, things which could help him to continue to have good results even if the arsenal of his stuff isn’t as impressive as other top pitching prospects. It also helps that he has a naturally athletic build. If he can refine his offspeed stuff and his breaking pitch even more, he could eventually turn into a very good starter.

Unfortunately, Humphreys was injured midseason and had to undergo Tommy John surgery in late August, therefore he will likely miss most or all of the 2018 season. It’s an unfortunate bump in what had been an impressively quick development, but he’s still young and it’ll be interesting to see how he rebounds when he eventually comes back.

With his work ethic that has been described as “unbelievable” by one scout, he’s someone who should do a good job of handling the mental repercussions of a long-term injury; it’s really just about how much the injury affects his throwing motion and his stuff. Had Humphreys not been injured, we likely would have ranked him higher on this list, but skepticism on whether he will be able to bounce back bumped him back a few spots.

Previous Rankings:

50-41 Led by Jacob Rhame

40-36 Led by Wagner Lagrange

35-31 Led by Gregory Guerrero

30-26 Led by Juan Uriarte

25-21 Led by Adonis Uceta

 

About Mojo Hill 44 Articles
Joseph "Mojo" Hill is 17 years old and lives in Los Angeles, California, where he has been following Mets baseball closely for the past few years. He enjoys going to 51s games and interacting with the players, as well as Mets games, where his most memorable moment was being in the 7-Line Army in San Diego for Bartolo's home run. He also enjoys writing about baseball online, particularly the Mets minor league system and just the Mets in general. When he is not watching or writing about baseball, he is playing tennis for his school's varsity team and playing bass clarinet for his school's marching band. You can follow him on Twitter @mojohill22