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New York Mets 2012 Draft Candidate: Gavin Cecchini, SS

School: Barbe HS (LA)
D.O.B.: 12/22/93 (18-years-old)
Height: 6’1″ ft.
Weight: 180 lbs.
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Position: SS


2012 HS .381 1 9 7 0 .552


  • 2011 COPABE 18U/AAA Pan American Championships All-Tournament Team
  • 2011 USA Baseball 18U Team
  • 2011 Under Armour All-American Game American Team MVP
  • 2011 1st Team ESPN Rise Underclass All-American
  • 2011 Baseball America 2nd Team All-American
  • 2011 LSWA Class 5A All-State
  • 2011 Under Armour All-American
  • 2011 American Press All-Southwest Louisiana
  • 2011 MaxPreps All-American 2nd Team
  • 2011 Gatorade State Player of the Year
  • 2011 Louisiana Coaches Assoc. 5A All-State
  • 2011 Perfect Game Underclass 1st Team
  • 2011 Perfect Game Underclass 2nd Team

Scouting Report:

Cecchini has a very athletic frame and well proportioned body that shouldn’t be too much of a concern to outgrow the shortstop position.

He is a pretty good defender and is expected to be able to stick at shortstop because of his instincts and athleticism. He has a strong arm, decent range, and is an above-average runner (6.6 60 yard dash), but it is his superb instincts that really give him a legitimate shot at remaining at short.At the plate he keeps things pretty simple. He has a fair amount of pre-swing noise, but minimizes movement just as he gets ready for the pitch. His leg kick isn’t anything drastic and he keeps his hips closed well. He creates torque and then explodes with hip rotation creating the source of his power. His power is currently gap power, but in part because of quick hands and strong wrists this projects to grow into more home run as he matures physically. He can make a few adjustments to smooth out his mechanics, such as lowering his hands, but overall his mechanics are relatively clean.

Cecchini is not described as a hacker, but could benefit from being more selective. His short swing allows him to keep the strikeouts to a minimum, but a better overall approach would bring his offensive game to the next level.

He has plus makeup without any major red flags and is considered an extremely hard worker.


He comes from a very athletic family (his brother Garin is a top Red Sox prospect) and has one of the more complete skill sets of all the shortstop prospects in the draft. His offensive game is probably a notch below that of his brother who was a 4th round pick and hit .298/.398/.500 last year, but what makes Gavin more intriguing is the fact that Garin had to switch to third base already and Gavin looks like a shortstop long term.

Cecchini is far enough away where he would not help the Mets short term questions trying to replace Jose Reyes, but he would immediately become the top shortstop prospect in the system and could move fairly quickly for a high school bat.

He has a commitment to Ole Miss along with his good friend Stryker Trahan, but being where the Mets would draft him he would be expected to sign.

Projected: Top 20 picks

For more posts like this visit my blog Mini Mets Pipeline. Follow me on twitter@NickPugs97.

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New York Yankees: A.J. Burnett Is a Bounce-Back Candidate

Earlier in the podcast Matt and I briefly talked about who was going to ultimately win the Yankees No. 5 starter job. We both pretty much agreed that A.J. Burnett would win by default, but a deeper look shows that Burnett is actually poised for a nice bounce back year.

I mentioned that Burnett’s 17% HR/FB rate last year looked extremely fluky and was way off his career average. A deeper look shows that was the highest home run rate in Major League Baseball since 2007 when who else, but A.J. Burnett posted a 17.7% HR/FB. Burnett followed that year up by going 18-10 with a 4.07 ERA over 221.1 innings. The year was fueled by a much, much better 9.6% HR/9.

A big difference since that 2008 season, however, is the fact his fastball has dipped 1.6 mph and the decreased velocity has seemed to really have an affect on Burnett. He tried to adjust by throwing his fastball an astonishing 10 percent less than average and rely more on his changeup.  He attempted to become a three-pitch guy for the first time and it failed. If he gets back to throwing primarily fastball and curveballs he could return to being a decent pitcher. 

The reason I actually see him having the bounce back year is because his peripherals were no different last year than normal. His 8.18 K/P and 3.92 BB/9 were a little worse than his average, but not by much. The hits allowed were also no different; the only major change was the home runs. An inch here or an inch there and things could look very different.

I am not trying to say Burnett will be a miracle and carry the Yankees, but there is every chance he performs like a No. 3 starter in the No. 5 slot. That is something that cannot be taken lightly. His FIP last year was 4.77 and his xFIP was even better at 3.86. Assuming he is healthy I don’t see why he can’t win 10+ games and throw 190+ innings with an ERA in the low-to-mid 4’s.

For more posts like this visit my blog The Gangs of Gotham. Follow me on twitter@NickPugs97.

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New York Yankees: Major League Ready Prospects – David Phelps, RHP

This is a little segment where I plan to highlight all of the Yankees prospects that have a chance to make an impact on the big league club for the 2012 season.

A week ago, the Yankees added five prospects to the 40-man roster to be protected from the Rule V Draft. For me, the biggest name on this list was 25-year-old right-hander, David Phelps.

Phelps is a little old in the prospect world, but he has moved through the minors at a steady pace and has had some outstanding results.

Through four minor league seasons, Phelps has amassed a 38-15 record with a 2.61 ERA and an unworldly 3.66 SO/BB. He has succeeded at every level of the minors, with his “worst” season coming last year when he posted a 3.19 ERA in 107.1 innings for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, along with 90 strikeouts to just 20 walks. 

Over the offseason, Phelps participated in the Arizona Fall League and went 2-2 in eight starts with a 4.41 ERA. After giving up nine runs in his first 9.1 innings, however, he settled down and gave up just seven over the next 23.1 innings.

Long story short—as far as the stats go, Phelps is a great pitcher with a definite ability to succeed at the major league level.

The question is: How does the stuff hold up?

Phelps has always had pretty good velocity, touching 92 mph coming out of high school with recent reports of him hitting 93-95 mph—but I have a pretty good reason to believe that he is actually more in the 91 mph range and touching higher.

Nonetheless, that velocity combined with his outstanding command and his ability to put natural sink on the ball is a great combo. Phelps complements his sinker with an excellent slider that was voted the best in the Yankees system last year by Baseball America.

He also throws a changeup that has shown some potential because of its command, but that is more of a change-of-pace pitch. 

There are varying opinions on Phelps’s curveball. Some see it as a true potential out pitch at the major league level, while others view it as a nice fourth pitch in a repertoire.

If the Yankees don’t sign any other pitchers this offseason there is every chance Phelps is brought into spring training to create some competition for the last couple spots in the rotation.

Then again, the chances of the Yankees not adding any other starters is pretty slim. If Phelps does not earn a spot in the rotation or the bullpen out of spring he will be one of the first guys called up in case of an injury. After all, Brian Cashman did have Phelps scratched last season in case he needed to make a spot start for Bartolo Colon and had Phelps not gotten injured himself, he probably would have shown up on the big club at some point last year.

Phelps has been the rare underrated Yankees prospect who could surprise many because of his ability to throw strikes and be a workhorse in the rotation. His sinker-slider combo should allow him to transition into a successful middle reliever at the very least. If Phelps isn’t able to secure a spot on the team this year, however, I would expect him to be dealt at the trading deadline.

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Major League Baseball: King Felix and the Top 25 Rising Pitchers Under 25

Each year, the talent that enters Major League Baseball seems to get younger.  After all, we are on the verge of seeing a player break into the majors who is barely old enough to vote for the President of the United States.

This is great news for the fans who get to see a young talent pool of players who should be around for a very long time.

Here is a list of the top 25 pitchers under age 25 who should anchor major league pitching staffs for the next 10 to 15 years.

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MLB Awards for MIPs: The Most Important Players by Team

While players like Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, and Josh Hamilton are accustomed to winning MVP awards, but it doesn’t mean they are the most important players for their team to win.

We all know about team’s most valuable players, but who really is the most important player for each team to have a successful season?

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New York Mets: Almost Just Isn’t Enough, Grab That Extra Inch

As Keith Hernandez loves to say, “Almost only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.”

In this young season, the Mets have managed to take a season of hope, with so many changes in the off-season and a great 3-1 start, into a season of early heartbreak.  The Mets have taken two aspects of baseball that usually generate a winning formula and turned them into a stylish way to lose and torment the Shea Citi Faithful.

Over the course of the first 13 games that saw the Mets go 4-9, they have done two things well as a team: Score runs in the early innings of games and make late inning comebacks.  One would assume a team that could do these things on a consistent basis would be on their way to a winning season—but not the Mets.

Out of the 13 games, the Mets have put the first run on the board in nine of those games, but would go on to lose five.  There are two major reasons for the Mets’ failure to capitalize on these opportunities to close out leads.

The first reason has noticeably been the pitching staff.  The issues go deeper than just the bullpen’s inability to not give up runs.  In a mind blowing stat, Mets pitchers have given up a run in the half inning following a Mets run, a resounding 43 percent of the time.  That is the easiest way to kill any momentum the team just gained.

The other issue is the team has also failed to tack on to their leads.  Even in a game like the one against Cole Hamels and the Phillies, they were able to put six runs up quickly, but were only able to add on one run for the rest of the game.  The Mets know as well as anyone that a six-run lead in the ballpark is not safe even though things worked out that time.  The offense is going to need to realize the pitching is too shaky to think any lead is safe, and they need to pour the runs on throughout the whole game.

I never even got to mention their continued troubles with bringing home the man on third with less than two outs, especially in the first inning with the rate Jose Reyes has been going on so far.

Manager Terry Collins said it best.  The Mets were just one pitch or one hit away from being a 9-2 team rather than the 4-7 one they stood at before being swept in the double header.  He hit the nail on the head recognizing his team could not find a way to come through in that clutch moment.  His players did not respond the way one would hope after being called out by losing yet another close game.

David Wright‘s at-bat with Matt Lidstrom in that next game against the Colorado Rockies could sum up the Mets’ whole season up until this point and continue the theme of missing their one moment—falling just one run, one ball, one base, one foot (give or take) short from getting the win.  The whole feel of the team right now seems negative and the Mets have lacked that breakout moment to break the defeatist atmosphere around them.

The Mets need to take a line out of Al Pacino’s book from the movie Any Given Sunday and try to get out of this funk by keeping it simple:

“Either we heal as a team or we are going to crumble. Inch by inch, play by play till we’re finished. We are in hell right now, gentlemen believe me and we can stay here and get the shit kicked out of us or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb out of hell. One inch, at a time. That’s a team, gentlemen and either we heal now, as a team, or we will die as individuals. That’s baseball* guys. That’s all it is. Now, whattaya gonna do?”

Terry Collins needs to find a way to get this message across to the team.  If it takes a team meeting where he plays the movie and forces them to watch it, so be it—something needs to be done.  I am not going into a complete panic because of a losing record, 13 games into the year—it is the fashion they have gotten there.  Someone needs to grab the bull by the horns and win a game for this team to energize their teammates and lighten the mood surrounding them.

The fan base has suffered enough over the last few years to deal with these near failures.  Coming close is not going to cut it in New York.  No one cares about the person who finished in second.

Check out more articles like this one at my blog Mini Mets Pipeline and follow me on twitter @NickPugs97.

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New York Mets Expose Three to Waivers Including Nick Evans

Adam Rubin has a good source reporting the Mets have placed Nick Evans, Pat Misch and Luis Hernandez on waivers.  All three players have 48 hours to either clear waivers or be claimed by another team.

The 29-year-old Pat Misch is likely to clear waivers after a mediocre at best spring training.  He did a great job filling in for the Mets at the end of last season and posted solid numbers all around in the minors.  Still a team is unlikely to waste a spot on the 40-man roster for Misch.

Misch also has the option to opt out of his contract if he clears waivers, although I don’t see him exercising this option for a few reason.  He already knows what to expect while pitching in Buffalo, and he also knows there are a lot of question marks dealing with the health of the major league pitching staff and he could find himself up on the big club at some point.

The one team who expressed interest in Hernandez has already acquired a similar type of player in Alberto Gonzalez so who knows if he will be claimed, but I am not going to spend any time at all worrying if an easily replaceable defensive specialist is lost through waivers.

The player I am most anxious about potentially losing is 25-year-old first baseman/outfielder Nick Evans.  Evans is a former top prospect who has almost faded into irrelevance in the Mets organization because of a combination of age, no true position and other players in the organization overtaking him leaving no room for him.

This fade to irrelevance was not Evans’s fault.  Last year Evans did nothing but hit. He combined to hit .300 with 23 home runs with 80 RBI in just 125 games while putting up solid numbers in 26 at-bats in the majors.

This spring he received the most at-bats of any player on the Mets and hit well posting a .333 batting average and showing some modest power with a .420 slugging percentage.

The accumulation of his minor league career and a spring that was just good enough to open eyes is enough for me to believe a team is going to take a chance and claim him.  I understand he had to be placed on waivers at some point if he wasn’t going to make the opening day roster and that there just isn’t a place for him, but it will sting if he goes somewhere else because he has a chance to become a solid regular.

Lucas Duda/Scott Hairston will now be your starting right fielder if Carlos Beltran is unable to go opening day.

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New York Mets: Which Reliever Will Capture the Last Spot in the Bullpen?

For the upcoming 2011 season the Mets have decided to carry seven relievers in the bullpen.  With only a few days left until opening day the Mets have six of the spots secured by Francisco Rodriguez, Taylor Buchholz, Bobby Parnell, Tim Byrdak, D.J. Carrasco and Pedro Beato.

The competition for the final spot has seemingly become a two-headed race between the former All-Star closer Jason Isringhausen and the journey man reliever Blaine Boyer

Before writing this I was dead set on the Mets bringing on Izzy, but now I am not so sure.  Both pitchers didn’t make it any easier by throwing a scoreless inning in today’s game against the Cardinals.

One major factor Izzy has over Boyer is the experience. 

Izzy has pitched in the playoffs on five different occasions even making one World Series appearance in 2004.  In postseason play Izzy has logged 26.2 inning and gone 1-1 with 11 saves in 12 opportunities in 23 games with a flashy 2.36 ERA. 

Experience is one thing you can not teach to someone and Izzy has already felt and succeeded in those moments when it feels like the weight of the world is one your shoulders, while Boyer has yet to experience postseason play.

Even with all his credentials most people, as I know I did, did not think too much of the move when the Mets invited Izzy to spring training. I saw just another older injury-riddled player trying to get lucky and latch on to a team. 

Izzy has shut up all the doubters pitching to the tune of a 1.29 ERA despite struggling with his command, walking three and striking out just three.  His success is mostly due to giving up just two hits. 

The negative side of his spring, Izzy has already had to be shut down briefly with a sore elbow. Not a good for someone who has already undergone three Tommy John surgeries.

His counterpart, the 29-year-old Blaine Boyer, was brought into camp on a minor league contract with an invite to spring training after a mediocre season with the Diamondbacks who had claimed him off waivers the year before. 

Despite the low strikeout totals Boyer is equipped with a nice fastball that averages 94 MPH that enables him to get a lot of ground balls averaging 56 percent GB for his career and 66 percent last year.  If you are looking for a reliever to come in and try and get that ground ball double play that the Mets have been missing since Chad Bradford then Boyer is your guy. 

Boyer has shown a lot this spring giving up just one run in 10 innings for a 0.90 ERA while walking three and striking out seven.  While he has shown good command so far in spring, over the last two seasons he has a 49:58 K:BB. That’s not a good number for someone coming out of the pen who could come in with runners on base and need to get a big out.

Isringhausen has already stated he will not accept a minor league assignment so the Mets will lose him if he does not make the team.  On the other hand Boyer has an opt out clause in his contract for Thursday.  This essentially means if he does not make the team he has the opportunity to opt out instead of going to the minor leagues.  The odds are the Mets are going to lose the pitcher who does not make the team.

While both pitchers have pitched admirably, if I was Sandy Alderson I would be taking the guy who has been around the block a few times with me on opening day.  Marcel projections have Boyer pegged to pitched slightly better in 2011, but it is the intangibles that Izzy brings that give him the edge. 

It is a bit of a risk to take Izzy because his elbow could give out any day now, but it’s a risk that has a good enough of a reward for me to take.  After the way Boyer has pitched, I would not be disappointed if the Mets decide to give him the last spot, however, he is also a talent that I think could be replaced with a AAA call up or a pitcher who is DFA.  This is a great position for the Mets to be in having too many arms for the pen after trying to piece pens together for the last couple of years.  And come on, who wouldn’t love to see Izzy succeed in a Mets uni after all these years?

//**If you liked this article find more like it at Mini Mets Pipeline**\\

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New York Mets: 2011 Season Predictions – Jason Bay, LF

Jason Bay | Left Field

Season Predictions
AVG percentage: .271
OBP percentage : .363
SLG percentage: .500
HR: 26
RBI: 87
SB: 14

2010 Numbers: .259 | .347 | .402 | 6 HR | 47 RBI | 10 SB (95 G)

162 Game Averages: .278 | .374 | .508 | 30 HR | 105 RBI | 12 SB

Jason Bay might have been the biggest disappointment in all of baseball in 2010. 

The concussion were not his fault, but even before that the six home runs in 95 games were not what the Mets expected when signing him to a big time contract.  I don’t think anyone was more upset with the performance than Bay himself, who worked extremely hard over the winter adjusting his approach at the plate and was killing it this spring. 

Doubters will point out his spring last year was even better and he still “stunk” come regular season. However, in my opinion it was one of those seasons the player just really presses because of the new contract and struggles because he is trying to do too much, too quickly.

A quick look at Bay’s career stats will show last year was most likely a fluke more than anything. Out of his seven seasons as a starter, last year was the only year he didn’t hit at least 20 home runs and averaged about 30 home runs over that spanhe had never drove in less than 89 runs even on bad Pirates teams, and only one other time had a slugging percentage under .520 percent. 

The odds are Bay will return to form, and for the Mets chances, he is going to have to mash again.

//**If you liked this article find more like it at Mini Mets Pipeline**\\

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New York Mets: Take a Cue From the NCAA Tournament and Just Play the Games

If there was ever a moral reason to watch sports, and not just purely for entertainment value, it is to teach you that anything can happen and there is a reason why we don’t just select the winner.  Watching the NCAA Tournament every year reminds me of this when you see teams like George Mason, Butler, and now VCU this year beat opponents the “experts” say they never had a chance against.

Listening to Mike Francesa while driving in the car (I’ll still never know why I do this to myself) people are saying you are insane if you think the Mets will have any success this year and are writing them off before the season begins. Are they the best team in baseball, league, or even division? No. At least not on paper, but how often does the best team actually win?

The Mets have their holes I won’t even try to deny that.  With their ace Johan Santana out for most of the season and a chance to be the whole year if there are any setbacks their rotation is a huge question mark.  The most proven guy in the rotation is Mike Pelfrey and he is even still erratic. You just never know what you are going to get.  A sophomore pitcher is the team’s number two starter, a knuckleballer the number three, and two guys in the second year of rehab after major surgery round out the rotation.  It sounds like the rotation of a last place team, but another solid season from Big Pelf, an improvement off a nice rookie campaign, more magic from R.A. Dickey, and one of the reclamation projects panning out makes this a very nice rotation. 

I don’t think it would be that much of a stretch to say this rotation winds up exceeding expectations with the personalities of each pitcher.  It is a rotation filled with gamers who have done nothing, but prove doubters wrong for their whole career (outside of Pelfrey) so what’s to stop them now.  My prediction is the rotation actually keeps the offense in most games this season and gives them an opportunity to win every game.

All-Star third baseman David Wright, All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes, All-Star outfielder Jason Bay and All-Star outfielder Carlos Beltran have all had their fair share of problems recently, but it just goes to show what type of talent is in this lineup.  Bay who was awful last year was coming off back-to-back 30 homer seasons and is having a great spring, Reyes quietly had a very solid season last year and is in a walk year, when Beltran is healthy he hits that part is never in question, and Wright finally seems to be getting his power stroke back.

Not to mention Angel Pagan who should have been an All-Star last year and has some new confidence predicting he will steal more bags than Reyes, a former league leader in steals. Throw in Ike Davis who was nothing short of solid in his rookie season and you can see an offense that can put up runs.  A lot of faith is being placed in the health of players (Bay, Beltran, even Reyes) and young players (Davis, Josh Thole, Brad Emaus/2nd baseman), but I just don’t see how you can completely write off a lineup that has as much potential as this one.

As with every team, this is not even close to a perfect team but it is far from the last place team people are calling them.  With the new philosophies of Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins who’s to say they will not inject a new energy in this team that has seemed to be the only thing lacking in previous years causing their infamous collapses?

What I am trying to say is no one knows how this team is going to perform because it is very different from the Mets teams of years past. Call me a very optimistic Mets’ fan but I see a team that if things go right have every chance to contend.  Just imagine a team 4 games or less back to only have their ace come back mid-season and inject new vigor to the team.

Let’s just play the games and decide the outcome on the field before writing a team off before the season even starts.

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