METS TOP PROSPECT GAVIN CECCHINI BEGINS FIRST FULL SEASON WITH BROOKLYN CYCLONES
Added by Jessica Quiroli on June 19, 2013.
Photo by Jessica Quiroli.
On an Opening Day that wasn’t (due to consistent rain), Gavin Cecchini instead greeted exuberant fans on the concourse that afternoon.
Most of them were kids, and in many ways, so is the player they were so anxious to meet. Let’s not forget, one of the New York Mets’ top prospects is just nineteen.
“I’m still growing,” he said, when asked about his new physique after putting on weight this winter. “I worked out with a personal trainer and with my brother [Garin, 22, in the Red Sox organization, 2010 draftee]. I put on probably ten pounds of muscle. My main thing wasn’t trying to put on weight, if it happens it happens, but being a shortstop, you’ve got to be able to move. So, I’m still stretching and working on my speed. If I put on weight that’s fine, it’s natural, as I get older, but as long as I’m getting stronger, that’s all that matters.”
Cecchini, ranked eighth best Mets prospect by MLB.com, spent most of 2012 in Kingsport and got an end-of-season assignment with the Brooklyn Cyclones of the New York Penn League. The short season team needed him during their playoffs push, and he got a few small opportunities. He started one game, working a walk, and pinch ran in four games. His athletic build and above-average speed were on display, even in those brief appearances.
It was something of a taste, as his first year of pro ball winded down after being drafted in the first round (12th overall) earlier that year out of Barbe High School in Lake Charles, La.
“Anytime you can get in the game, get my feet under me, see some pitches, it’s always going to help you have that edge and make you feel more comfortable.”
Short-season is more of a preparation league, where results are important, but just giving players experience is the biggest concern. It’s a glimpse of what will be expected of them. The mix of high energy college guys, and second year players like Cecchini, create an intense atmosphere. This is where it all starts to feel a little more real, a little more professional.
“It’s a big thing to come here. And they want to give their fans a look at their prospects,” Cecchini said. In his first game, against the Staten Island Yankees in their home opener, he went 0-3.
He’s also figuring out who he is and what elements he can bring to the team. The newness of the experience still hangs in the air, and every player is there for the same reason. But few besides Cecchini have a grasp of what it takes to become a leader and a great professional athlete.
“I really don’t come across as someone trying to tell people what to do. I just play my game and let [it show in] my performance, and how I carry myself, and doing the right thing off the field,” he explained. “There’s always going to be leaders on the team. Everyone can be, though. Everyone has something they can bring that they’re working on, to make the team better.”
The exhausting nature of the first year of pro ball can affect even the best young players. And even Cecchini experienced that initial adjustment period. Now he’s more prepared. He knows what he needs to do to keep his energy up. And what he needs to do to continue to his ascent to the big leagues.
“This year is just about not taking a pitch off. Last year, just playing everyday, sometimes I got tired. In high school, I played four days a week, in pro ball you’re playing everyday. So this year is to keep working and play hard, and give everything on the field.”
Photo courtesy of Prospect Nation.