The 20-year-old split the majority of 2014 between Single-A Savannah and advanced Single-A St. Lucie, driving 40 extra base hits, with 56 RBI and 10 stolen bases. He was rewarded with a promotion to the B-Mets the final week of the season and remained on the roster for their playoff run to an eventual Eastern League championship. Although Cecchini was only given five at-bats (one in the postseason), he viewed the experience as invaluable and believes it will better prepare him for what's to come.
Cecchini comes from a baseball family. His father is a high school baseball head coach and was recently named the Head Coach for the USA under-18 National Team. His brother, Garin, is an infielder in the Boston Red Sox chain and was called up to the major leagues for the first time in 2014. How much does Gavin rely on his brother and father for advice as he makes his way through the minor league chain? What has he been doing to prepare for 2015? He answers that and more in this week's Mets Minors Q&A.
Brender: What have you been doing during the offseason and have you begun preparing for 2015?
Cecchini: I’m back where I went to high school, in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I’ve just been working out and eating better. I’m working out with my brother and a few other people in professional baseball. We’ve been hitting, throwing, taking ground balls, the whole nine yards, getting ready for Spring Training. After the season ended, I went home for probably three or four days and then went straight to instructs (Instructional Camp) for two weeks. I returned home and took a little time off, not too much, but I was still doing active recovery. I wasn’t just hanging out doing nothing. I was riding the bike, dry-hacks with the bat. Then, I started working out again with my brother.
Brender: You were promoted to Binghamton near the end of the season and were there for the playoff run. How was that experience?
Cecchini: First off, it’s unbelievable when you’re on a winning team. There’s only one team at the end of the year that’s going to be happy and that’s the team that wins it all and I was fortunate enough to be a part of that team. It was awesome, man. They had a lot of guys up there that have a lot of knowledge for the game, that have been around the game for a long time and I just tried to soak everything up. Like you mentioned, I only had a few at-bats but I was still learning watching the game and seeing how pitchers pitch to certain hitters. Just watching the game, you can learn so much. You don’t always have to be playing the game to learn about the game. You can watch the game, play the game, talk about the game.
There are a lot of things that go into the game that people don’t realize and ways to learn and become a better player. That’s what I’m all about. I’m not ever going to plateau. I always want to and keep getting better and better and try to be the best player I can be. To be up there with Binghamton for the last two and a half weeks, to go through the playoffs with them and to win it all, there’s nothing better than that. It was awesome to be up there and get my feet wet a little bit and get a taste of Double-A just to see how things work.
Brender: What are your thoughts about your 2014 season? Do you feel like you grew as a player this year?
Cecchini: Yeah, definitely. Obviously not everything is about numbers. It’s all about learning and I learned so much this year. Going into my first full season and being with Savannah. Just the everyday grind and the long bus rides in the [South Atlantic League]. Then I got called up at the All-Star break to St. Lucie. I started off a little slow there but it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish and I ended up tearing it up in St. Lucie in the end. I made the adjustments. Then, I got called up to Binghamton, only had a few at-bats there. I don’t really talk too much about stats. Just being out there every day, playing every day, learning from the mistakes that I make and just trying to perfect my game all around. That’s what it’s all about in the minor leagues. It’s about getting better and learning. Hopefully soon I can help the big league club out.
Brender: What’s the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make offensively to adjust to pitching in the minor leagues?
Cecchini: I think it’s plate discipline, actually. As hitters, the majority of the time, we get ourselves out by swinging at pitchers pitches or pitches that we can’t really drive. In high school you can get away with it because pitchers aren’t as good, they don’t have as much movement or as good stuff as they do in professional baseball. That’s one thing I think I got way better at this year. Obviously, you can tell I took way more walks this year. I was getting on base. It’s about getting your pitch to hit and that’s one thing the Mets organization emphasizes is if it’s not your pitch, don’t swing. As hitters, we’re trying to shrink the zone. Pitchers are trying to expand the zone. So, keying in on getting your pitch to hit and if they don’t throw you your pitch or they’re trying to pitch around you just hand the corks over to the next guy on deck.
Brender: Talk about the relationship you have with your brother Garin, who made it to the big leagues this season. How much does he help you?
Cecchini: We’re really close and we talk a lot, not just baseball but life and everything that goes into it. I’m so happy for him that he got his first taste of the big leagues. He was actually called up a few times to Boston and started a few games there at the end of the year. I’m really happy for him. He’s worked so hard and he deserves the best. I’m always trying to pick his brain. He’s two and a half years older than me, so what I’m going through right now he’s already been through. He played in the New York-Penn League, the SAL League, the Eastern League. All the things I’m going through now, he’s been through before I have.
So, whenever you have that it’s always going to be an advantage. We’re a baseball family. My dad is a high school baseball coach and his team won the national championship last year and he’s going to be the manager for the United States 18 and under team. So, we come from a baseball family. We’re always talking baseball inside the house, always trying to get better, always at the field working.
Brender: It sounds like a great advantage, not having to go outside your own family for feedback?
Cecchini: I’m always trying to pick up something from everyone. It doesn’t have to be from inside the family. It can from guys who are out of baseball and played professionally or current players. We’re always talking to players, coaches, coordinators trying to get better. My dad has had a lot of players drafted from the high school he coaches. He’s had over 40 players drafted, a couple of first-round picks, four or five that have made it to the big leagues, so whenever you have that much talent we’re always talking. My brother has been in the big leagues. My cousin, Josh Prince, has been in the big leagues with the Brewers. So, I’m really blessed to have all these people to talk to and try to get better.
Brender: Are you where you want to be at this point in your career?
Cecchini: You know what, I’ll never say that I’m right where I want to be because I’m always trying to get better. I always want to be the next step above where I am. I always want to get better and climb the ladder. I don’t ever want to plateau. I don’t ever want to just be mediocre and stay the same. Whenever I’m in the big leagues, I can win all the awards but I’ll always want to get better. I’ll always try to help the team win in whatever aspect it may be and just trying to be the best player I can be.