On Tuesday the New York Mets promoted infielder Gavin Cecchini to the major league roster for the September stretch run. He's been in the spotlight since being selected in the first round of the 2012 draft from high school in Lake Charles, Louisiana, but the way his career developed hasn't quite matched the early expectations. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Let's take a look.
We begin with the pre-season take from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book.
Gavin Cecchini, SS, New York Mets
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-1 WT: 180 DOB: December 22, 1993
2013: Grade B-; 2014: Grade B-; 2015: Grade C+
Two years ago, Gavin Cecchini was seen as a good-field-no-hit shortstop with excellent defensive skills but questionable hitting that might preclude a regular job. That’s changed now. He’s gotten stronger over the last two years while maintaining his strike zone judgment. Although he’s never going to be a significant power hitter or stolen base threat, he has a decent chance to hit for average with some doubles and sufficient OBP to stay in the lineup. On the other hand, Cecchini’s defense has declined. His error rate has been getting worse and although his instincts are praised, his range looks increasingly stretched at shortstop. There’s a reasonable chance he’ll wind up at second base eventually. He is still rather young at age 22 and nobody questions his work ethic or hustle. Grade B-.
Cecchini continued the 2015 trend, hitting .325/.390/.448 for Triple-A Las Vegas with 27 doubles, eight homers, 48 walks, and 55 strikeouts in 446 at-bats. It is true that Las Vegas is friendly for hitting but he was effective both at home (.861 OPS) and on the road (.815 OPS), plus the shape of the campaign is similar to what he did in 2015 (.317/.377/.442 in Double-A).
The defensive trends maintain as well: his error rate continues to get worse, not better, and his range metrics at shortstop have never matched his high school reputation as a strong glove. He's not terrible, but the numbers simply aren't those of an excellent defender. I continue to believe that he would be very good at second base, but he's hardly played the position, with just three games this year, and would need some time to get the finer points down.
At age 22, Cecchini is in a good spot on the age curve, having fully proven himself as a hitter in the high minors. Even with the questions about his defense, he should be a valuable player going forward. I would not under-estimate his chances to improve even further with the bat. He's done enough to merit a Grade B entering 2017.