Cecchini’s Injury Cost Him More Than The Season
With Jeff McNeil hitting .300/.417/.500 in his first 14 games in the Major Leagues, Mickey Callaway said of evaluating the second baseman, “Is this guy going to be a kid we might not have to go find a second baseman over the winter? That’s where we’re at right now.” Seeing how McNeil was coming off three straight injury riddled seasons and how the team made every excuse to keep him in the minors this season, McNeil’s even being considered for the 2019 second base job is quite startling.
It’s all the more startling when you consider if things had been different, McNeil may never have received this opportunity.
Coming off a terrible 2017 season, former first round draft pick Gavin Cecchini set out to rededicate himself and to improve himself in each and every aspect of his game. Overall, the goal was for the Mets to give him more than just a cup of coffee in the majors. The next time, he wanted to stick.
As Cecchini noted in an interview with Abbey Mastracco of nj.com, he sought out to improve every aspect of his game. This meant doing work with Mets hitting coach Pat Roessler to not only change his stance and bat angle, but he would begin studying video. Cecchini also spent time improving his physique, and he began talking about trying to steal more bases. Really, he was turning over every stone to become a better baseball player. Cecchini would describe the result of those efforts:
It feels so strong, like the ball is just exploding off my bat. I never felt the type of pop and power that I have no before. Yeah, I’ve gotten stronger, I gained 15 pounds, but still, the ball is just, I can really tell that my body is always in a good position to hit and the ball is just exploding off my bat.
His efforts paid immediate dividends with him getting noticed during Spring Training, but given the Mets infield depth already set, he would begin the season in Triple-A. With his Spring, and the health issues on the Mets roster, Cecchini looked to be on the verge of getting a shot at a call-up in the event his new and improved approach translated to regular season success.
Through 30 games, Cecchini was hitting .294/.342/.468 with 11 doubles, a triple, two homers, and nine RBI. His .174 ISO was the best of his minor league career. While stats can admittedly be inflated in the Pacific Coast League, his 110 wRC+ indicates he was an above average hitter for the league.
All told, Cecchini was doing everything he needed to do to earn another call-up. All he needed was a chance.
Ironically, while he was waiting for a member of the Major League roster to get injured for him to get a chance, it would be Cecchini who would be the one to get injured.
On May 9, Cecchini would foul a ball off his foot, fall to the ground, and he would need assistance to get off of the field. Initially, he sat out some games while he did some work on the side. The hope he would have a quick return quickly faded as Cecchini was sent to New York to have his foot evaluated by a specialist, who fitted him with the dreaded walking boot.
While the walking boot has been removed, Cecchini remains unable to resume baseball activities. Last month, Las Vegas manager Tony DeFrancesco indicated Cecchini is feeling a tear in his foot.
Ultimately, this likely means Cecchini is done for the year. After that is anyone’s guess.
While Cecchini has been unable to play, the Mets have seen Todd Frazier make multiple trips to the disabled list. Asdrubal Cabrera was traded to the Phillies. Amed Rosario has struggled leading the team to sit him multiple days a week. Long story short, the opportunities for Cecchini to prove himself would have been present.
Instead, those chances went to Luis Guillorme and McNeil. As noted by Callaway, McNeil has at least played well enough to merit consideration for being the Mets 2019 second baseman. Where Cecchini will be at that point is anyone’s guess.