The Mets selected 18-year-old SS Gavin Cecchini as the 12th overall pick in the 2012 first year player draft tonight.
Cecchini led the USA Baseball 18U National Team to the gold medal at the Pan American Championship in Colombia last fall. He hit .500 with 17 RBI in 15 games during the tournament.
Cecchini is committed to attend the University of Mississippi beginning this fall, and was named Louisiana Baseball Player of the Year this week.
He missed the first six games of this season with tightness in his hamstrings, but came back and hit .413 with seven home runs, 32 RBI and 31 stolen bases during his senior year at Barbe High School in Louisiana this season.
Last night on SNY’s Geico SportsNite, Cecchini said of his recent visit to Citi Field, during which he was able to stick around to watch Johan Santana’s no hitter:
“It was unbelievable. it was one of my favorite stadiums I’ve been to, and I’ve been to a lot of them and played in a lot of them. It was awesome. All of the scouts and people took me in, and all the players from the New York Mets they treated me like one of their teammates – they had never even met me before. So it was awesome.”
Cecchini told SNY he likes to think of himself as a Dustin Pedroia-type player.
“I am going to go out there and play hard,” he explained. “I am not going to take one pitch off. That’s just the type of player I am.”
In a conference call with reporters last night, Paul DePodesta spoke about the organization’s draft strategy and said:
“I don’t think we go into the Draft thinking we want to target anything that’s related to the Major League club, or any even specific need in our system. That said, we love middle-of-the-diamond players: catchers, shortstops, center fielders if we can get them. So we do target those players.”
To learn more about Cecchini, read quotes from scouts, experts around MLB and to see a YouTube clip of him fielding and hitting,
In a Q&A with Sox Prospects, Cecchini says he overworked as he prepared for the amateur draft which resulted in his hamstrings being strained, saying:
“This year I just over did it. I was looking at it as the draft coming up and I was going to do more than I always did—more than I had to do, but it was too much more. I was working out three or four times a day and pulling tires and my body didn’t have any recovery time. My body just kind of shut down and my hamstrings started getting tight. I was taking 500-600 swings a day and your body is not made to do that, and my body just shut down.”
Keith Law of ESPN had the following to say about Cecchini:
“Cecchini, the younger brother of Red Sox farmhand, Garin, has a better chance to stay at shortstop than his brother did while sharing the same solid makeup and strong feel for the game. Gavin Cecchini starts with a very wide base at the plate and gets wider as he strides — far wider than he did last summer — leaving himself somewhat off balance through contact, although closing his initial stance could mitigate this. His swing is somewhat rotational with slight loft but not the kind that will produce big power; it’s not great bat speed but his hand-eye appears to be very strong, and getting him more balanced at the plate should improve his contact rates and doubles power with wood. In the field, Cecchini has a plus arm with a very quick release, soft hands, and the agility to be an above-average defender at short in pro ball. There’s a utility-player floor here that makes him somewhat safer than most high-school picks, but I’d be surprised if that’s all he turns out to be.”
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com writes:
“Cecchini has a quick stroke with good extension, enabling him to make consistent hard contact. He’s got mostly gap power now and his speed plus instincts allow him to be a basestealing threat and take the extra base. Those instincts also help him defensively. While his hands are good and he grades out as average with his arm and range, some think a move to second might be better. Either way, this scrappy middle infielder is sure to get plenty of looks in the spring.”
John Manuel of Baseball America says of Cecchini:
“Cecchini has good tools, but that’s not what wows scouts. Cecchini has solid offensive ability, and some scouts consider him more of a bottom-of-the-lineup hitter. He makes consistent contact and is an above-average runner, but his strength is his defensive ability at short, baseball instincts and overall ease of play. He can make shortstop look easy and has plenty of arm strength and accuracy.”
In regards to his defense at shortstop, ESPN HS says:
“Gavin is a premier high school shortstop out of Louisiana who has a well-rounded game and all the tools to stick at the position. In the infield he has good range and a solid arm. He tends to drop his arm on some of his throws which causes the ball to sail, but that will be an easy fix at the next level.”
Here is video of Cecchini hitting and playing the field:
Cecchini worked out for the Mets on Friday and watched Johan Santana’s no-hitter from a suite at Citi Field.
Cecchini is the fourth position player taken in the first round by the Mets since 2008. He joins first baseman Ike Davis (2008), infielder Reese Havens (2008) and Brandon Nimmo (2011).
To learn more about Cecchini, check out this report for CBS Sports.
To follow Gavin on Twitter, click here.