By Ed Coleman
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It didn’t take long for the Mets to get their top draft choices signed and in the fold. Gavin Cecchini, a high school shortstop from Louisiana and the No. 12 overall pick, agreed to a $2.3 million contract, slightly under the slot price.
They had a sandwich pick at No. 35 and with it chose 21-year-old catcher Kevin Plawecki from Purdue, who also recently signed.
The 18-year old Cecchini was named Mr. Baseball in Louisiana and led Barbe High School to a state title by hitting .413 with seven home runs, 32 RBIs and 31 stolen bases. Mets director of amateur scouting Tommy Tanous believes that Cecchini is pretty close to a total player.
If Cecchini is lacking in a tool, it might be power. As Tanous noted, his older brother was drafted two years ago and is currently playing at Single-A in the Red Sox system. And Cecchini had a rather exciting indoctrination to the Mets — being in attendance on June 1 at Citi Field for Johan Santana’s no-hitter.
Cecchini also led the US 18 & Under team to the gold medal at the Pan Am Championships last fall, batting .500 with 17 RBIs in 15 games. As a high school junior, he was named the state Player of the Year.
In addition, Cecchini was named the MVP at the 2011 Under Armour All-American game, giving the Mets the last two MVP’s of that game. Brandon Nimmo from Wyoming, the Mets’ first-round pick last year, was the MVP in 2010.
Even those outside the organization have noticed Cecchini. Former major leaguer and current Washington Nationals TV analyst F.P. Santangelo, while watching the televised draft coverage, said that Cecchini was the lone first-round pick that jumped out at him.
Cecchini’s idol while he was growing up? Well, that would be a shortstop on the other side of town — the Yankees’ Derek Jeter. Many high schoolers play shortstop simply because they’re the best players on their teams, and they get switched or moved to other positions as they get older and mature. So you have to like Cecchini’s confidence — he’s a shortstop now, and he’s sticking to it.
Cecchini also has an interesting theory on trying to improve as a player.
Cecchini will join Single-A Kingsport of the Appalachian League when their season begins on Tuesday June 19.
As for Plawecki, Tanous felt the Mets secured the most versatile backstop available.
Plawecki hit .359 this past season with 7 HR and 47 RBI in 59 games. He was named the Big 10 Player of the Year and also was selected the MVP of the Big 10 Tournament. In addition, Plawecki was named First Team All Big 10 each of the last two years. In what may be his best trait of all, Plawecki is obviously a contact hitter — he struck out only eight times in 223 at-bats this season, and just 29 times in his entire three-year career at Purdue. Plawecki talked about his knack for avoiding strikeouts.
While Cecchini heads to Kingsport, the older Plawecki will be a Brooklyn Cyclone, and he’s pumped about that.
Paul DePodesta, Mets VP of player development and amateur scouting, feels that both Cecchini and Plawecki fit the team’s system perfectly.
DePodesta added that the organization looks high and low and tries to cover all the bases when preparing for the draft, but when it gets down to it, they like to look straight up the middle of the diamond.
There’s starting pitching coming — Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, et al. — we’ll see how two highly thought of position players fit in down the line.
C U soon
What do you think of the new kids? Do you think the Mets’ farm system is one of the best in baseball? Be heard in the comments below…