The 2017 season certainly was a disappointment for New York Mets infield prospect Gavin Cecchini who ended up with a .709 OPS in the Triple-A and even worse .529 OPS in the big leagues.
Cecchini had successful offensive seasons in 2015 when he had a .819 OPS while striking out only 11.3% of the time in Double-A and then 2016 when he posted a .838 OPS in his first Triple-A action.
The biggest change going into the 2017 season for the 24-year-old was supposed to be him moving full-time to second base. He had struggled defensively at shortstop for a few seasons and the Mets had their long-term answer at the position in Amed Rosario.
Instead we saw a different swing and approach from Cecchini then we had in the past and it didn’t work out. The walks went down, the strikeouts went up and his line drive percentage (his bread and butter pre-2017) went down.
Cecchini went to the video this offseason while speaking weekly with hitting coach Pat Roessler and found a few issues as he told Abbey Mastracco of NJ.com, “No rhythm and my hands were way up here and my bat was straight up. It put me in a bad position because I had no rhythm and I was in a bad hitting position always on my front leg. So, one of the adjustments that I made was to have rhythm with my hands and lower my bat angle to a 45.”
Cecchini’s offense has always been hitting the ball hard all over the field but last year his pull percentage jumped from 43.8% in 2016 to 48.9% and his percentage of going to the opposite field was a career-low 27.2%. He found himself out on his front foot a lot which stopped him from hitting the ball with authority and the ability to go the other way.
Another change for Cecchini will be him closing his stance, “I would always get on my front side and would be in a weak hitting position to where I had nothing behind my swing. And the more times where I would get on my back leg and stay behind it – I have good hand-eye coordination so I’ve always squared up balls, but it’s a matter of really impacting the ball now and driving it, instead of just putting balls in play.”
The former first round pick also put on about 15 pounds of muscle after changing some of his workouts and with the help of a nutritionist. Cecchini hopes the new swing and added muscle will lead to a better season in 2018 at the plate with some added power.
Right now, the newly bearded Cecchini is a virtual lock to start the season in Triple-A where it will be interesting to see how they work in playing time between him and Luis Guillorme, who also moved to second base.