Alfred M. Barbe High School (LA)
The younger brother of top Red Sox prospect Garin Cecchini, Gavin was born in to a baseball family and he hails from one of the strongest high school programs in the south. His parents are both highly regarded coaches at Barbe High, and he’s been immersed in baseball since early childhood. Cecchini has put together an extraordinary amateur career and for many pro scouts, he was already a household name during his final years in middle school. He’s matured in to an elite middle infield prospect during his past three seasons. In 2009, playing with ABD Academy’s Bulldogs in the Perfect Game National Championship, he outshined many of his fellow top prospects by belting three hits in four at bats during the final contest. In 2011, he hit a ton and put together his defining campaign, batting .532 with 11 home runs and 45 RBI en route to Gatorade’s Louisiana Player of the Year. As a senior this Spring, he continued his rise as a premier prospect, earning his second straight Gatorade Louisiana POY and taking home honors as Lousiana’s Mr. Baseball after batting .415 with 7 home runs and 32 stolen bases. To cap off his high school baseball career, he led Barbe to the class 5-A State Championship, and took home All-State and Rawlings First Team All-American honors.
Cecchini has also established himself as one of USA Baseball’s elite producers. Through 15 starts with the 2011 18U National Team, Cecchini hit a club-leading .500 with 17 RBI and 10 steals. Though Albert Almora won the team’s MVP during the Pan Am Games, Cecchini was arguably the better performer. He out-hit every player on the team and played very good defense at second base, posting a .971 fielding percentage and turning double plays.
Like his brother and parents, Gavin is gifted with remarkable hitting prowess. Swinging the bat is in his blood, but his hard work off the field is impossible to overlook. His skills are a combination of genetics and unwavering dedication. He continues to hone his skills and improve his game, laboring tirelessly in the cage since he was old enough to swing a bat. He has excellent bat control and he generates easy bat speed. His loose, free and easy swing generates impressive bat acceleration. A true hitter, he simply puts the bat on the ball, and lets his body do the rest. His hand-eye coordination and plate vision give him the prerequisites for a high batting average in pro baseball. Though his hands are prone to getting out in front his body, he does a great job of staying inside the ball and using his core and legs to whip the bat through the zone.
To go with a textbook line-drive swing, Cecchini also has learned advanced pitch recognition and plate discipline, and he’s very difficult to keep off base. He has an intelligent approach at the plate, and works the count like a veteran top-of-the-order hitter. Though he’s selective, he doesn’t hurt himself with passivity. His hands move cleanly and directly to contact, and he’s very short to the baseball, following through with a smooth, fluid finish. Like the vast majority of young hitters, he’s more comfortable to his pull-side, but he’s more than willing to take the ball up the middle and to the opposite field. His swing allows him to make solid contact in all four quadrants of the zone, and he’ll be able to take charge of the inner half once he adds more strength.
A 6.7 runner, Cecchini has plus game speed and he’s an aggressive baserunner. He racks up steals with great jumps and fluid acceleration. He has long legs, but does a nice job of controlling his stride and keeping his legs behind him through take-off. He’s also a great first-to-third runner, who will be able to leg-out extra-base hits and beat the tag with a nice head-first slide.
Cecchini is the best defensive shortstop among high schoolers in the 2012 draft, and at the same age, he’d probably be a better fielder than Deven Marrero. He knows the position well, and already makes all of the plays with big league fluidity. Cecchini’s quickness works well in the field, where he shows the light feet and a quick first step. He has the soft hands and the smooth actions demanded of an everyday Major League shortstop. He’s unbelievably sure-handed for a kid out of high school, and his quick release allows his solid-average arm to play-up. His throws are accurate and his arm action affords him good carry with normal tail.
Though he’s added 10-15 pounds of muscle throughout the past year, Cecchini still doesn’t have a lot of strength in his swing. Most of his power comes from his ability to barrel the baseball, but he has the frame to eventually grow in to 10-15 home run pop. He isn’t a slap hitter by any means, and his line-drive stroke–combined with his plus wheels– will always be conducive to doubles and triples.
The Mets drafted Cecchini with the 12th overall pick of the 2012 MLB Draft. He was in attendance for Johan Santana’s recent no-hitter and could be the good luck charm that the rebuilding franchise desperately needs. If he signs and the franchise’s player development team makes the most out of his tool set, Cecchini could be a Jason Bartlett/Orlando Cabrera-type shortstop with star-level upside.