It probably didn’t come as much of a surprise to the New York Mets that David Wright is once again on the shelf with much uncertainty surrounding his return. Wilmer Flores — whom the Mets once hoped would be their future shortstop — has taken the reigns at third, while rumors are aswirl that Jose Reyes may be nearing a return to New York to bolster their infield depth.
What about within the organization? The Mets do have the veteran Kelly Johnson as a super-utility role player, but is there some youth on the farm that could possibly provide some help to a thin infield.
Is now the time to give Gavin Cecchini — one of the Mets upper-tier prospects — his shot in the bigs?
WHO IS GAVIN CECCHINI?
If the name sounds familiar, it is likely because of his older brother, Garin. Garin was once a top prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization, but never really panned out in two very brief stints in the bigs. This past offseason saw his tenure in Boston come to an end when he latched on with the Milwaukee Brewers’ Colorado Springs Sky Sox in Triple-A.
Gavin — nearly three years younger than his big brother — was drafted in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft, selected 12th overall out of Barbe High School in Lake Charles, LA. He stands at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds and both throws and bats right-handed. Now 22 years old, and in his fifth minor league season, Cecchini has transformed himself from an all-or-nothing defensive-minded player, to someone who has shown that he may be able to handle a big league stick successfully.
WHY PROMOTE CECCHINI?
When Cecchini came to the Mets, he was a defense-first prospect with strong instincts for the position, despite lacking an overpowering arm or extraordinary range. They had hoped Cecchini would shape out and develop into a solid contributor up the middle. He has since become a pretty stout bat with outstanding plate discipline that looks like he could contribute offensively in Queens.
Cecchini isn’t lightning fast on the base paths, as he’s stolen just 22 bases in 38 career attempts. He isn’t going to lead the team in home runs any time soon, with a mere 20 home runs over parts of five minor league seasons. What Cecchini does bring to the table is the ability to make contact and get on base and some very nice gap power.
Cecchini’s first two seasons were spent between Rookie League and short-season ball, and he struggled mightily with his hitting. In 2012, he posted a .629 OPS behind a .240/.307/.321 slash line. The next season saw barely any improvement as a .273/.319/.314 slash line led to a disappointing .633 OPS.
The 2014 season, although not a major improvement, saw Cecchini hop three levels of the minor leagues, landing in Double-A while finding some moderate pop in his bat behind some added strength.
WHY CECCHINI IS STILL IN TRIPLE-A:
Where Cecchini has worked hard to improve his offense, he has seemingly slipped defensively. He always possessed natural instincts for a middle infielder as well as the hands to succeed at the position; however, he has become more and more error prone with each passing season. He committed 27 errors in ’14, which he followed up with 28 in Double-A.
Cecchini currently has made 20 errors in just 48 games (251 chances) in Triple-A, posting a career low fielding-percentage of .920. His career fielding percentage of .944 is certainly a red flag, especially for a prospect with seemingly little room for error as it is.
So what’s the verdict? Do the Mets give Cecchini a chance? To find out my thoughts and see some video, head on over to Today’s Knuckleball for my full article by clicking on the link below: