Forget Arizona Fall League, Gavin Cecchini headed to majors

CINCINNATI -- Gavin Cecchini's participation in the Arizona Fall League apparently will have to wait.

Cecchini, the New York Mets' first-round pick (12th overall) out of high school in Louisiana back in 2012, is due to join the club Tuesday as a September call-up after the completion of Las Vegas’ season. He previously had been due to represent the organization in the AFL, but Neil Walker's season-ending back injury may have prompted the Mets to add another infielder.

The Mets also plan to add from the minors Rafael Montero, Matt Reynolds, Brandon Nimmo, T.J. Rivera, Eric Campbell, Josh Edgin and Erik Goeddel. In fact, no one on the 40-man roster was passed over for a promotion. Reynolds is due to be activated Monday, a day ahead of the others.

Entering Monday’s Pacific Coast League finale, the 22-year-old Cecchini is hitting .324 with eight homers and 54 RBIs and has a .387 on-base percentage in 116 Triple-A games. His average ranks third in the league, trailing only his teammates Nimmo (.354) and Rivera (.350).

Cecchini exclusively had been a shortstop during his professional career until Thursday, when he started at second base for the first time. He now has appeared in three games there.

“He has really started to understand a game plan from at-bat No. 1 each day,” Las Vegas hitting coach Jack Voigt recently said. “He realized early in the year that he was not always going to get a fastball in a fastball count in Triple-A. He is improving his plate discipline every day and that has translated into a better approach as well as some added power this year.”

St. Lucie shortstop Amed Rosario rightfully gets plenty of hype, but Cecchini is two years older.

While with Las Vegas this season, Cecchini had the opportunity to be in uniform in the same game as his 25-year-old brother for the first time since they were the double-play tandem in high school. Garin, who has appeared in 13 major league games with the Boston Red Sox, currently is playing in the Pacific Coast League for Colorado Springs, a Milwaukee Brewers affiliate.

Cecchini’s parents were on hand for that May 19-22 series. While playing for their father in high school in Louisiana, Gavin played second base as a freshman and his junior-year brother played shortstop. Midway through the following season, Garin suffered a knee injury and Gavin moved to shortstop for the duration of his prep career.

Cecchini has been slowed by injuries at points during his pro career. A left shoulder strain suffered on a swing forced him to halt his Arizona Fall League participation last offseason after four games. It also scrapped his planned participation with Team USA in the Premier 12 Tournament in Asia. Residual inflammation in spring training led to a cortisone shot and kept him out of Grapefruit League action.

“Ever since then it’s been good,” Cecchini recently said.

Cecchini does have 33 errors this season. He said he has been particularly intent on remaining focused each and every play, which should remedy that issue.

“I know that I’ve made a few errors this year on plays that I might have taken off,” Cecchini said. “For example, I’m ready the first 20 pitches of the game. And then the 21st pitch, because it’s just a pitch, I’m saying, ‘OK, I’m going to take the pitch off.’ And I’m not focused and mentally prepared, saying, ‘Hey, the ball is going to be hit to me.’ The next thing you know that ball is hit to me and, oh, man, I make that error because my feet aren’t in good position to make the play.

“That’s the main thing I’ve really been working on this year is just staying focused out there and being ready every single pitch. As you keep moving up, the game gets faster, the guys get stronger, they start hitting the ball harder. So you’ve really got to be ready and on your toes every single pitch expecting the ball to be hit to you.”