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The View from Behind the Backstop: Notes on Luis Cessa, John Gant and Gavin Cecchini

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More scouting notes on the 2015 Binghamton Mets.

Gordon Donovan

Luis Cessa

RHP, Binghamton Mets (AA)
Height, weight: 6'3", 190
Age (2014 season age): 23
Acquired: IFA, 2008
Date(s) seen: 4/25 @ New Hampshire Fisher Cats: 5 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
2015 so far: 70.1 IP, 71 H, 55 K, 16 BB, 2 HR

In a mild upset, Cessa has been the best of the Opening Day B-Mets rotation so far in 2015. I saw him on a brutally cold night in April, but he was still dialing the fastball up to 96 and sitting 94-95 in the early going. There is some effort in Cessa's delivery to get it there, and a head jerk and very stiff landing leg add to the "reliever mechanics." Because of the effort, he tends to fall off and have trouble finishing his delivery at times, giving him below-average command that was better arm-side (inside to righties) than glove-side. The fastball has some life when he finishes and gets it down in the zone, but is very true out of the hand otherwise. He also had issues holding the fastball deep into the game and was down to 90-92, touching 94, in his last inning of work. By then the command and release-point issues were more pronounced as well.

The secondaries are very much works in progress. Both the slider and change would flash average, but it still takes a fair bit of projection to get either of them there. The slider varied from slurvy to cutter-ish, depending on what end of the 78-84 mph range Cessa threw them. The change was flat and stayed up, though there is excellent velocity separation and it does come out of the hand like the fastball. He showed a better slider as he settled in, but the change actually went backwards as he lost his feel for it. The weather may have played a part there.

I can squint and see one of Cessa's off-speed offerings getting to major league average, but it's tough to project two of them to do so. That, combined with the effort in the mechanics and the command profile, and I see him as a reliever at the highest level. Cessa's having more success as a starter in Binghamton than Hansel Robles did, but I could see a similar track/outcome for the 23-year-old right-hander.

John M. Gant

RHP, St. Lucie Mets (A+)
Height, weight: 6'3", 175
Age (2015 season age): 22
Acquired: 21st round, 2011 ($185,000)
Date(s) seen: 4/26 @ New Hampshire Fisher Cats: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
2015 so far:
AA: 36 IP, 42 H, 24 K, 21 BB, 1 HR
A+: 32.1 IP, 24 H, 38 K, 9 BB, 4 HR

I was a little surprised that Gant got sent back down to St. Lucie. The initial assignment was aggressive, and the overall performance wasn't great, but he's shown some real improvement year-over-year. He was touching 90-91 for me in 2014. This year he sat there. He has tightened up the curveball, and it is a more consistent offering. And of course the split-change is still a weapon. And the results in the Florida State League do seem to suggest that a more normal assignment track would have set him up for more success.

But why the issues in Double-A? Well, even with the velocity bump Gant has a very average fastball. When he can get ahead and use his secondaries (or work backwards), he is in control of the at-bat. However, when he fell behind and had to challenge New Hampshire hitters, the fastball command just wasn't fine enough to avoid barrels. Gant has been dominant in St. Lucie, and reportedly found another tick on the fastball as well. I don't think the projection here has changed a ton, and I expect a return engagement in Binghamton to go better.

Gavin Cecchini

SS, Binghamton Mets (AA)
Height, weight: 6'2", 200
Age (2014 season age): 22
Acquired: 1st round (12), 2012 ($2,300,000)
Date(s) seen: 6/13-6/14 vs. New Britain Rock Cats: 0-7, K
2015 so far: 253 PA, .290/.344/.429, 25 K, 18 BB

I am likely getting another look at Cecchini in July, so I will hold off on the full report until then. However, I do have some concerns with the profile after my weekend in Binghamton. On the offensive side there is some stuff to like here. He has eliminated the high leg kick he used for much of last season. He now uses a very wide, open stance at the plate with a toe tap to close and start his swing. This does mute some of the gap power he was showing with the leg kick last season, but I think it gives him a better chance to adjust to off-speed stuff. It also helps keep his backside from collapsing and the swing plane level. There's still good bat control there as well. I think he will hit some.

So let's talk about the glove. His instincts and actions are fine, not special, but polished enough. He knows what he is doing out there. He isn't even an average runner anymore, which is an issue. My primary concern is the arm. It's just not strong enough to make all the throws you need to make as a shortstop, and when Cecchini has to reach back for some extra oomph on a close play, he gets a little scattershot. You have to do a bunch of things well to be a major league shortstop. Now I can live with "okay" at a few of them, but Cecchini is just fringy enough at all of them that it looks more like a second base profile. That puts much more pressure on the bat.