First Round: Mets draft Cecchini, Plawecki
If you haven’t heard yet, the 2012 MLB Rule 4 draft started on Monday. This year is much different from past years, as hard slotting has taken effect. Each team is assigned a certain amount of money, which can be used for bonuses. This prevents big-market teams from drafting players later in the draft who might have gone earlier, but fell due to bonus demands. The draft is modeled with the intent of the small teams getting the better players. It also forces the kids being drafted to decide if they really want to dedicate their lives to baseball professionally, if they aren’t getting first-round money.
Last year, the Mets went in a different direction from the past. After selecting Brandon Nimmo and Michael Fulmer, two high school players in the first round, the Mets flooded their draft board with college arms and toolsy high school players.
In the past, Mets fans were used to seeing college players drafted year after year. Some say it was used to save money, but at the time, the Mets were in contention or believed to be able to contend. The positives with drafting college kids is that a) they’re fairly well-developed, so you you have a good idea of what you’re getting; and b) they might not require as much time in the minors. The downsides: a) they usually don’t have as much “upside” or projectable talent as a high schooler; and b) you don’t get to develop them yourself.
After the jump, you can read my analysis by the New York Mets’ first two selections in this draft. Keep checking back for updates on each pick (until it’s a crapshoot).
Round 1, pick #12 – Gavin Cecchini, SS Lousinana HS
– Signed to Ole Miss, Cecchini is the younger brother of Boston Red Sox prospect Garin Cecchini. Amazin Avenue has a lengthy scouting report on Cecchini, so I won’t repeat it. In short, Cecchini is another toolsy prospect, who is a near lock to stay at shortstop. He’s not projected to hit that much but has a nice glove, can run, and does everything “average.”
This draft has been filled with much drama because of the uncertainty with each pick. Most thought Mark Appel was a lock for the Houston Astros. He fell to #8 for Pittsburgh and lost $3M. The Mets were linked to nearly everyone you could think of. At the time of the selection, most players the Mets were looking at were available. Some names included Michael Wacha out of Texas A&M, Courtney Hawkins, Corey Seager, and Lucas Giolito. All of those names went in the first round.
Read this scouting report from the MLB.com Draft Tracker:
“Bloodlines are always a good thing, so the fact that Cecchini’s brother, Garin, was a 2010 draftee and now in the Red Sox organization doesn’t hurt. The younger Cecchini, however, is more than making a name for himself.Cecchini has a quick stroke with good extension, enabling him to make consistent hard contact. He’s got mostly gap power now and his speed plus instincts allow him to be a basestealing threat and take the extra base. Those instincts also help him defensively.While his hands are good and he grades out as average with his arm and range, some think a move to second might be better. Either way, this scrappy middle infielder is sure to get plenty of looks in the spring.”
The key phrase here is “scrappy middle infielder”. I have not seen Cecchini personally, so it’s premature for me to make assumptions. But when you draft someone deemed scrappy, you are going to have to have patience.
With this pick, I would have preferred a pitcher like Lucas Giolito. Instead, the Washington Nationals pulled the trigger and selected him. In the spring, Giolito was rumored to possibly go #1 overall, but the Harvard-Westlake righty hurt his arm, and teams didn’t know the severity of the injury. Plus, there were rumors of crazy bonus demands, but those have seemed to disappear. The Nationals are very confident that they can sign the 17-year-old flamethrower.
Earlier this week, I wrote how the Mets lack a true #1 starter in the farm system. Wheeler looks like he could transform into one, but he’s never really been considered one. Giolitio has the stuff needed to be a #1 starter; as such, I think this pick will haunt the Mets in years to come. I’m not saying Cecchini isn’t going to pan out, but we are seeing how the Nationals are becoming this pitcher-dominated ball club. Mike Rizzo isn’t afraid to dish out the extra dollars to get the best player. Aggressiveness in the draft is a good start to fielding a team at the ML level. For the first time in a long time, the Nationals are not picking in the top 10 and they still get arguably the best player in the draft.
I know this is supposed to be about Cecchini, but I’m really disappointed with the pick. The Mets lack infield depth in the minors, but drafting a project like Cecchini isn’t going to solve this. Arizona State’s Devin Marrero was available at the time, which made the pick more mind-boggling. Marrero was considered a top-10 talent, but fell after a lackluster season. He could have been a nice pick at #12, but maybe the front office sees in Cecchini something other than a scrappy middle-infielder.
The problem I have with this pick is New York is a city that is about now, not tomorrow. If you’re not going to buy the best free agents, then you better get the best talent in the draft. Gavin Cecchini wasn’t the most talented player available at pick #12. Period.
My 2013 outlook: He’ll most likely follow the same path as Brandon Nimmo and start in extended spring training.
Grade: B-, leaning toward a C+.
Round 1, pick #35 – Kevin Plawecki, C Purdue University
– Here’s where I feel things went really sideways. The first pick was a bit underwhelming, but we don’t know what to expect with a high school kid. At the time of this pick, there were plenty of young arms to choose from. Earlier last week, Keith Law of ESPN suggested the Mets were linked to Carson Kelly, a high school arm committed to Oregon. Instead, the Mets drafted Kevin Plawecki, a catcher out of Purdue University.
The first thing that stands out about Plawecki is his eye at the plate. The right-handed backstop struck out only 29 times in 638 plate appearances. The 2012 Big Ten Player of the Year played in the Cape Cod summer league for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, which is known for housing the top college draft talents. In 130 ABs, Plawecki batted .262, hitting 1 homerun and collecting 15 RBI. Again, the most impressive part of his offense was his ability to draw walks and not strike out (18 BB/13 K’s). He also added 6 SBs, which is somewhat intriguing, but most likely won’t carry to the professional level.
Drafting a catching prospect is either hit or miss. You can draft a guy like Kurt Suzuki or a guy like Blake Forysthe. Keith Law states that Plawecki has chance to be an everyday starter because of the scarcity at the position. The words don’t sound so encouraging, and the pick is a puzzling one.
A pitcher here would have been nice. There were also a number of other bats here that could have worked. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York spoke with Paul DePodesta about the philosophy behind these picks. DePodesta stated that the Mets went in with the mindset of grabbing “middle-of-the-diamond players”. He said this about the picks: “We were thrilled to come up with a shortstop in the first round and a catcher in the comp round.”
A good pick here could have been Travis Jankowski, a true centerfielder from SUNY Stony Brook. Other than Matt Den Dekker, the Mets lack true CFs and Jankowski could have fit here. If the Mets didn’t draft Cecchini, they could have gone with a college shortstop like Florida’s Nolan Fontana.
And if Plawecki never pans out, just remember, this is the gift the Mets were given to compensate for the loss of Jose Reyes. Being that Plawecki was an over draft by about 2-3 rounds, I’m not thrilled but am intrigued. Some think the Mets are waiting to spend their money in the later rounds, but why not get the best talent right now?
My 2013 outlook: Since Purdue is out of the College World Series, Plawecki should sign fairly soon. He could be assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones in the New York Penn League. Depending on his success, he’ll either be pushed to High-A St. Lucie or to Low-A Savannah in 2013.
What were your thoughts of the first night? Check back later for more updates throughout the next two days.