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Shortstop Gavin Cecchini #2 during the Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field on August 13, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.


Meet the Top Mets Draft Pick: Gavin Cecchini

The Mets held the twelfth pick in yesterday's first round of the MLB first-year player draft, and they used that selection to nab a shortstop: 18-year-old Gavin Cecchini from Lake Charles, Louisiana. Who is this young gentleman, and why is he now a member of the Mets? Let us investigate.

Now, the first thought on the minds of draftniks might be Oh, I know this guy. The Red Sox drafted him two years ago. There has been a mistake. I can see why you might think that, but thankfully there has been no mistake. The player you're thinking of is GARIN Cecchini. Garin. He's Gavin's brother, he's currently playing in Boston's farm system, and he's a different person entirely. (Why parents give their children near-identical names, then raise them to pursue the same profession is beyond me — the Collins brothers and Morris brothers of the NBA surely agree — but I digress). Glenn Cecchini, the father and presumed culprit of this nominal confusion, was also Gavin's coach at Barbe High School in Lake Charles. Gavin helped Barbe win the Louisiana 5A state championship this year, hitting .413 with seven home runs, 32 runs batted in, and 31 stolen bases. That performance earned him the title of "Mr. Baseball" in Louisiana over the weekend. Pretty neat.

Also neat: Remember that time Johan Santana pitched a no-hitter for the Mets? Well, Cecchini was in the building! That's right! After working out for the Mets on Friday afternoon, Cecchini stuck around Citi Field to take in that evening's game against the Cardinals. Lo and behold, he witnessed history, which very well may have strengthened the bond between player and organization. Cecchini was probably all like, "I don't know, guys! I guess I'm good luck!" and the Mets were all like, "Nah, man. That's just how we do things around here! No-hitters on the reg! Don't look that up."

So, we know he's a fine talisman. How's he as a baseball player, though? The consensus seems to be that Cecchini is a polished player, though perhaps lacking the "upside" of some players the Mets deferred. The scouting report at Amazin Avenue falls in line with most of the stuff out there. They see Cecchini as a savvy, competent hitter who has most of the necessary attributes to make a fine defensive shortstop. Based on their appraisal, Cecchini won't be a slugger, a speedster, or especially flashy, but he'll make contact, make plays at shortstop, and do all of the above with a sparkling attitude.

Such a pick seems both a continuation of and departure from last year's approach. Like Brandon Nimmo, Cecchini's a high-school kid, as opposed to the college players New York focused on in years past (though they did take Kevin Plawecki, a catcher from Purdue, with the 35th pick). Unlike the especially raw Nimmo, Cecchini seems like something vaguely resembling a complete baseball player, albeit one with less perceived potential to explode into a hyper-athletic megastar. Between Nimmo, Cecchini, and Plawecki (another solid defensive player deemed "low-upside"), the Mets hope they've got the makings of a fine middle-of-the-diamond trio ready to blossom in their farm system.

Cecchini's "signability," by the way, isn't supposed to be an issue. He's committed to play at Ole Miss, but the available slot bonus of about $2.5 million is expected to be enough to reel Cecchini into the Mets organization straight out of high school. In that case, welcome, Garin! Gar — Gavin. Gavin. Gavin Cecchini.

Photo: Mike Janes/AP Images