Position: 2B/SS B/T: R/R Age: 12/22/93 (25)
Acquired: 1st Round Draft Pick in 2012
Previous Rank: 18
2018 Stats (Las Vegas): 30 G, 119 PA, 109 AB, 14 R, 11 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, SB/CS, .294/.342/.468, .326 BABIP
Despite being designated for assignment earlier this week, the Mets still have a promising infielder in their system.
Gavin Cecchini was drafted out of high school with the hopes that he would eventually become a regular Major League shortstop. He always had the arm strength to play shortstop, and early reports were actually positive on his defense. However, he got off to a slow start to his career offensively. He showed virtually no power his first two years for Brooklyn and Kingsport, with just one home run in 430 plate appearances.
His power output largely improved in 2014 playing for Savannah (the Mets’ old full-season A-ball team) and St. Lucie, with a brief game in Binghamton. He posted a .247/.328/.378 line, hitting eight homers and posting an OPS above .700 for the first time in his professional career.
In 2015, everything finally clicked for Cecchini with the bat, and the Mets saw the offensive player that they thought they had drafted in 2012. Playing the full season for Binghamton, he hit .317/.377/.442. He hit just as well in Las Vegas in 2017 with a .325/.390/.448 line, which earned him a cup of coffee at the end of the year with the Mets where he went 2-6 with two doubles.
One thing to note, however, is that both of Cecchini’s strong offensive years were buoyed by high BABIPs, with .348 and .357 marks in 2015 and 2016, respectively. In 2017, his peripherals stayed more or less the same but that BABIP dropped to .298, resulting in a much weaker .267/.329/.380 line in Las Vegas.
Another major red flag that began to doom Cecchini’s prospect value is that his defense began to get wildly inconsistent. In the three-year span of the 2014, 2015, and 2016 seasons, Cecchini made a total of 88 errors. Errors are not everything, but this very long stretch of defensive inconsistency pretty much forced him off the shortstop position as he transitioned into a mainly second base role. He has the tools to play shortstop, but he never could find enough consistency with his throwing arm to stay there long-term.
To be fair, his defense was a lot cleaner, if unspectacular, after the move to second, but his relatively weak offensive profile didn’t fit as well there. In an extended look in the Majors in 2017, he appeared to be mostly overpowered by Major League pitching, with one of his few shining moments being his home run off superstar pitcher Clayton Kershaw. In fact, this is his only career Major League home run to date.
As you can see in the clip, Cecchini has a stiff and choppy swing, even when he’s hitting a home run off a three-time Cy Young Award winner. While he has always been known for his quick hands, the choppiness of his swing causes him to be fooled and overmatched a lot of the time. This is what led to his struggles facing Major League pitching.
After a disappointing 2017, Cecchini set out to fix the issues he had been having. He worked hard over the offseason to fix his swing, and as soon as Spring Training came, he unveiled his new mechanics for all to see. While there was still some choppiness in the spring of 2018, he changed his batting stance to be more loose and relaxed while at the plate.
Before, as you can see in the video below, he had his bat stiff and pointed straight up, making it difficult to make consistent contact with the ball.
After, he had his bat at a more traditional angle, with his hands a lot looser, allowing him to take a more natural and relaxed path to the ball.
Cecchini immediately saw improved results with the new swing. After a strong spring, he started the year as the 51s’ starting second baseman, as was pretty much expected. While maintaining a more reasonable .326 BABIP, he hit a solid .294/.342/.468, looking more relaxed and confident while hitting the ball harder in general. He even worked on his versatility, splitting time with Luis Guillorme at second and short and even playing an inning at third. With the way things were going, and with the rough season the actual Mets were having, Cecchini appeared to be gearing himself up for a look with the Mets down the stretch. He was hitting solidly while expanding his versatility to fill a potential need. There had even been talks about trying him in the outfield.
Then on May 9, in a game against the Fresno Grizzlies, Cecchini was hit on the foot by a pitch which sent him crumpling into the ground and needing assistance to leave the field. The original timetable for his return was thought to be less than a week, but that window kept getting extended longer and longer as his absence dragged on and on until he basically ended up missing the rest of the season. He did make a very brief comeback, playing in a rehab game for the St. Lucie Mets on August 31 and going 2-4, but by then it was too late to ease him back into action to be ready to play full-time again.
It’s really a shame because 2018 was a big opportunity for Cecchini, and he was showing lots of promise with his offseason improvements, work ethic, and determination to improve. He always had the tools, hence why he was drafted in the first round, but he never really put them all together while in the Mets organization. He had lots of ups and downs on both sides of the ball, as he simply just did not pan out to be what the Mets thought he could be. He showed his true talent in spurts here and there, but he just never could put it all together.
He will, however, get another chance in 2019 to prove his worth.
50-46 Led by Michael Paez
45-41 Led by Ranfy Adon
40-36 Led by Anthony Dirocie
35-31 Led by Ryley Gilliam
30-26 Led by Chris Viall
25 Carlos Cortes
24 Ali Sanchez
23 Eric Hanhold
22 Luis Carpio
21 Freddy Valdez
20 Walker Lockett
19 Junior Santos