Reese Kaplan -- Gavin Cecchini and the Las Vegas 51s


For a team that’s been built on pitching pretty much since divisional play began, the Mets now find themselves not only deep in arms, but also with an impressive surplus in the middle infield.  Once you get past the established veterans Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes, you have starting shortstop Amed Rosario, top prospects Andres Gimenez, Luis Guillorme, Ronny Mauricio, Gregory Guerrero and Luis Carpio.  Somehow seemingly getting lost in the shuffle is former 1st round pick Gavin Cecchini who these days is back at his natural position of shortstop for the Las Vegas 51s.

Cecchini has shown flashes in the past and actually sports a very nice .284 career batting average in the minor leagues.  In 2015 he hit .317 for the year striking out a mere 55 times in AA, and then in 2016 he followed that up with an almost mirror image season, this time hitting .325. 

While the bat has played well, there have been some questions about his defense.  His arm is strong but sometimes erratic and the move to 2nd base seemed to be a good thing for his future when Amed Rosario arrived in AAA for the 2017 season.  Unfortunately for Cecchini he had for him a subpar year with the bat, dipping to .267.  As Rosario was anointed the shortstop of the future it may have taken a toll on Gavin’s outlook and hence his productivity.

This spring, however, he returned with a vengeance in the beginning, but as he began to cool off it became clear that there was going to be no room at the inn and he was bound once again for Las Vegas.  He’s seemingly undergone a renewed commitment to success and going into the weekend was hitting around .364.

After today’s game I got to spend a few minutes with Gavin Cecchini to ask him about a variety of things.

MacksMets:  How do you feel about where you play on the field in AAA?

Cecchini:  The plan always was for me to play primarily at my natural position of shortstop but I’m equally comfortable playing 2B or 3B.  

MacksMets:  With the fast start the Mets have had, what does that mean for players looking to move up when few opportunities may exist given the success the big club is having?

Cecchini:  I go out every day and play as hard as I can to get ahead.  Whether it happens with the Mets or not I just need to keep doing what I’m doing.  There are 29 other clubs who might find a place for me if there turns out not to be one on the Mets.

MacksMets:  The minor leagues have a set of two parallel but sometimes conflicting paths – developing ballplayers and winning games.  What do you think about that?

Cecchini:  Whether you are in high school, AAA or the majors, everyone wants to win more than anything.  It’s part of being a competitor.  You always want to get better but winning is the most important thing.  It’s a lot more fun when you do.

MacksMets:  Being a number one draft choice opens doors for you but it also puts you under the microscope.  What do you think about your draft position?

Cecchini:  I never felt any additional pressure to perform being a number one draft pick.  I just try to work as hard as I can to improve myself as a player and to move up. 

MacksMets:  How did your first spring training with Mickey Callaway compare to the previous ones with Terry Collins?

Cecchini:  Mickey established a very positive energy and vibe in the clubhouse.  Everyone was much more upbeat, but still learned to be serious about working hard to get better and to be prepared to win.

MacksMets:  Thank you for your time today, Gavin.  I know it’s a tough day after a lopsided outcome.

Cecchini:  No problem, man.  Thanks for talking to me.     


As far as the 51s game on Sunday, the less said the better.  Mickey Jannis' knuckleball was not fooling the hitters, but he left trailing only 3-0.  Logan Taylor was brought in to begin the 5th inning and the roof caved in.  After giving up 6 runs he was asked to take one for the team and came back to serve up a home run in the 7th.  The El Paso Chihuahuas 10-0 margin would stand.

There were a few things worth noting in this game, starting with my new favorite relief pitcher, Tim Peterson.  He came into the game today for a single frame and got out of it 1-2-3, striking out a pair and reitring one on a fly ball to left.  That means in the past two games he's faced 6 batters and fanned 5 of them without allowing a baserunner.  Apparently what he accomplished in 2017 was not an outlier after all.

Jamie Callahan came in to pitch the 8th and promptly served up a blood double to left but then retired the side without anyone scoring.  He was hitting the radar gun in the low 90s and with the 4 mph margin the press box said should be added, that's major league level velocity.

Dom Smith collected a couple of hits today though the final at-bat was against a lefty named Tyler Webb who made him appear overmatched, swinging weakly as he struck out.

Bryce Brentz has had a bit of a tough start to his Las Vegas 51s career with the bat, but he did collect a hit today, though what stands out was a running, turning, over-the-shoulder catch in deep left centerfriend that prevented Chihuahuas catcher Raffy Lopez from collecting his 5th hit of the day and potentially hitting for the cycle.

The 51s only real scoring opportunity occurred when they had the bases loaded and the pitcher went 3-2 to Patrick Biondi who was then called out on highly questionable strike which resulted in him jawing for quite awhile with the umpire.

There's an 11:05 AM game on Monday, so I'm playing hooky from the regular gig to cover the 4th and final game of this series which the 51s now trail 2-1.


We have received some excellent photos courtesy of photographer Grant Wickes who happens to be the future father-in-law of El Paso Chihuahuas starter Kyle Lloyd.  He forwarded to me pictures of yesterday's starter P.J. Conlon and should have additional ones available for tomorrow's post:


Mack Ade said...

Well done Reese.

I found Cecchini's comments about the other 29 teams both interesting and intelligent.

Let's face it... he is currently surrounded by 'can't miss' shortstops. They moved Luis Guillorme to second and I do believe that the plan this year was to play Gavin at short in Vegas until things might develop for him.

It could be injuries in Queens (look at the catcher situation and ask Tomas Nido the odds on him being the starting catcher at the end of week two) or possibly part of a trade package for a catcher like Realmuto in Miami.

I was very upset that he did not come north this month. He earned it in ST and Reyes should not be here. That being said, he needs to focus on every pitch thrown to him and every ball hit to him and wait for the call into the manager's office.

Gavin will not be a minor league baseball player by the end of this year.

Thomas Brennan said...

Mack, I could not agree more on Reyes - he should be gone.

Including spring training, he is something like 8 for 68. Give Gavin a chance now, unless Reyes turns it around in the Nats series (if he even plays). I think Callaway really likes Reyes and would be concerned about clubhouse chemistry taking a hit - but it would be nice if Reyes could actually get a hit.

I sometimes wonder whether anyone like Gavin should consider catching as a path to the bigs. They may not see themselves as catchers, but I would rather be a catcher in the majors than a natural infielder who finds his path blocked. Think Anthony Recker...he is a career .199 hitter who has 4.08 years of service time in the major leagues - and Gavin is clearly a better hitter than Recker.

TIM PETERSON!! Six innings, no runs, 14 Ks in AAA? Stop and admire those #s for a minute.

Mack Ade said...

Tom -

I walked past Gavin a few times on the Sand Gnat field but I never made contact.

I think he has done a wonderful job of fighting threw the negative Twitter fog of him being drafted in the first round.

Everybody deserves a chance to start in this game, especially if you have earned it in the minors. Gavin has, but there simply is no starting future for him in Queens. He slots in behind Rosario at short and would be #2 next spring behind Guillorme. It just is what it is.

Reese Kaplan said...

For now Guillorme is fighting for playing time off to a poor start while Ty Kelly is on fire and needing to be in the lineup as winning games is a dual priority along with developing players. They did double switch Matt den Dekker out of the game and inserted Kelly in CF as at this point Matt is pretty much just organizational filler. Maybe that's how you keep Kelly in the lineup and give reps to both Cecchini and Guillorme.

Matt den Dekker is still showing off his strong defensive skills with both the glove and his arm.

Thomas Brennan said...

Reese, I am disappointed den Dekker could never figure out the hitting challenge - not everyone can succeed.

Mack, Gavin's competition also includes TJ Rivera, who has to be pretty close to ready to returning, and Phillip Evans, who I also think should seriously consider switching to being a catcher/utility IF, if he can in fact catch effectively.

My guess is Evans could be a 5 year major leaguer if he could catch. And you can make a lot of money in the majors over 5 years.

It really is too bad that Nimmo also never got time in the minors at 1B. He really seems he should be in the line up frequently, and that trio of Bruce, Cespedes, and Conforto is a true blockade to him right now.

Mike Freire said...

Nice work, Reese!

When GC mentioned 2B AND 3B it raised my eyebrows, since I think we are a bit light on hot corner prospects. His bat may not profile as a true third baseman, but there aren't too many choices right now.

I still think his best spot is 2B, but I am also not an expert.

Anonymous said...

Switching to Catching...

I would venture to say here, that switching to catcher from any other position is probably a low probability for success. Catching usually takes several years, you cannot expect anywhere near immediate results. There are things with it, only time and experience can provide a player.

I'd prefer acquiring a catcher via a trade.

What about Bandy from Milwaukee for starters? Holy crap, what a HR swing he takes. The dishes in my cabinet rattle.

Yes, a little excitable at times. But he was right on that low ball the umpire called strike three. There are so few really powerful hitting catchers in the game now.

An extra starter, a top rated MiLB player that won't fit in here because there is a really good younger play in that position already, plus one of our own catchers might do it. Maybe a six-player deal with like a Milwaukee Brewer team?

The catchers here now (with all their injuries every single season) is getting tiring for us fans. We need Gigantor the Space Age Robot, and we need him now!

Bandy is close.

We have too many outfielders here now. Maybe one. Make it a six man deal.

Mets could use a lefty set-up man too. A lefty set-up hard thrower could save Familia from having to close every game too.

Sometimes, I actually make some sense? Scares even me!

Anonymous said...

On things...

Truth on Jose Reyes. True, he is struggling. True, he is also visibly pressing. True, he has never been just a pinch hitter before. True, Jose is a consummate professional and great clubhouse guy.

So what to do? Jose needs more at bats to get loosened up. Maybe Vegas for three weeks. Call up Cecchini or Evans in his place. Play Flores more too.

Tim Tebow. The man is starting to hit. His BA is at .250 now. Fans adore him. Never say never. Could still make it here. He's got above support.

Gerson Bautista. This kid is the real deal. 100 mph? You kidding me. I already like him better than half our current bullpen. He stays. Get used to him. He stays. Familia needs another hard throwing partner to setup or even close with. Now, he has one.

JT Realmuto from Miami. There are whispers, not horse ones. The right package of players could get JT, hmm maybe. Then...Plawecki or D-node eventually backs up, splits time behind the dish.

Tim Peterson/Reliever. Making a darn name for himself. A good name. I bet we see him up here soon. Just a hope. Always room in the pen for another topflight arm.

Matt Harvey. Gut feeling on tonight. Matt comes through. This guy is a fighter who never gives up. The great ones never do. He is reformulating his recipe for success.

Mack's Mets © 2012