#6 – RHP Michael Fulmer
Why Ranked Here: He’s big, he throws hard, and he improved over the course of the 2012 season as a 19-year old in the South Atlantic League. He’s a sturdily built kid at 6’3”, 200 with big strong legs. He sits 93-95 with his fastball and can reach back for a little more when he needs it. His slider got better over the course of the year. At the beginning of the season scouts thought the pitch had a chance to be average. By summer, they were saying that it had a chance to be a plus pitch. The Mets had Fulmer focus on his slider rather than his curveball, although he hopes to begin throwing his curve again. His changeup at the beginning of the year was crude. He just had not thrown it very much because he had not needed it to get high school hitters out. He became more comfortable using it, and must continue to refine it.
Fulmer’s stuff got better because he made a subtle but important change in his delivery. He turned his hip ever so slightly close in his leg kick (turning his butt to the hitter), which kept him closed longer. Thus, he did not fly open and his body worked better in concert. Early in the season, he would leave many pitches up. By repeating better, he was able to locate much better.
Gnats pitching coach Frank Viola raved about Fulmer’s inquisitive nature and coachability.
2012: Fulmer improved dramatically over the course of 2012. In fact, he went on a 10 start stretch from his final start of the first half through his second to last start of the season, in which he did not allow more than two runs in any outing while throwing six innings or more in six of those 10. Good things happen to talented players given a full year in the SAL
Dr. Pangloss Says: Plus fastball, plus slider and I see a #3 starter behind Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler in a sweet young rotation.
Debbie Downer Says: His breaking balls and his fastball command do not progress and he becomes a reliever.
Projected 2013 Start: Advanced-A St. Lucie. He tore his meniscus in spring training but should be back on the mound in games by mid-May or June 1 at the latest.
MLB Arrival: 2015
#7 – SS Gavin Cecchini
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 180 lbs
Acquired: 1st rd (12th overall) ‘12 (Alfred M. Barbe HS)
Born: 12/22/93 (Lake Charles, LA)
2012 Rank: N/A | Stats
Why Ranked Here: The Mets spent the 12th overall pick in the 2012 draft on Cecchini and then spent $2.3 million to sign him. He comes from a baseball family his dad’s a high school coach and his older brother plays third base in the Red Sox organization. Mom, Cecchini told me, throws a mean seated batting practice.
The Mets think Cecchini will be a nice shortstop. Mets VP of Amateur Scouting and Player Development Paul dePodesta: “I think he’s going to be a solid average defender at shortstop. I don’t think we have any question that he’s going to stay at the position… We think he’s going to a very steady defender. It’s probably not going to be Omar Vizquel, it’s not going to be flash, but he’s going to be a very solid defender. He’s going to catch everything he gets to. He’s fundamentally very sound.”
At the plate, the team thinks he’s a top of the order hitter, dePodesta again: “Offensively, we think he’s a guy who is going to hit first or second in a lineup and be a very tough out, hit for average, get on base, hit for a little power. We’re not expecting him to go and hit 30 homers, but he’s not going to hit three either. There’s some strength in there, and there are going to be some doubles. He does everything well.” There probably isn’t one tool that you point to and say, ‘that’s just way above average: that’s 70 power, or 70 runner.’ There’s nothing that’s below average. The makeup is good.
When I saw Cecchini in Kingsport, and it was a short look on a wet track, I did expect to see a little more in the way of pure tools. He has nimble feet and gets into good position fielding balls and around the base. However, I thought there would be more straight-line speed, as he was just an average runner. His arm was average, for a shortstop.
At the plate, in 2012, he hit out of a fairly preloaded stance. I the time, I came away liking hands at the plate and his swing more than I thought I would, but feeling he needed to get stronger to hit that way. Well, by spring training 2013, he had a little more load and was a little stronger. He’s still nice and short to the ball with good feel for getting the bathead out to spray line drives to both gaps.
2012: Sent out to the Appalachian League, Cecchini held his own against slightly older competition, earning a walk in 8.5% of his plate appearances.
Dr. Pangloss Says: The combination of average shortstop defense mixed with on-base skills and a nice swing make him an above average regular.
Debbie Downer Says: What if he loses a step and can’t play short? What if his power remains decidedly below average? Maybe he’s a utility guy.
Projected 2013 Start: The plan is for Cecchini to begin the 2013 season in extended spring training and then head out to Brooklyn. I do not like this plan. Remember, of guys from the 2009 and 1010 drafts, in the last two years, 75% (12 of 16) high school position players began in low a-ball in their first full season. The only guys who did not were Brandon Nimmo, the raw Donovan Tate and a pair of Angels picked at the back of the first round. I firmly believe that the way to get better at something is to do it. It works for skiing, biking, writing, painting and yes, baseball too. Between here and Cyclones Opening Day, the Gnats will play something like 73 games. The extended Spring Training team will play many fewer innings. That’s valuable development time lost. What’s the worst that happens? Cecchini struggles mightily and the Mets send him down to Brooklyn in June? I do not see it. The kid I saw was confident on the field, patient at the plate and could survive in the SAL.
As for Philip Evans in Savannah? There’s plenty of playing time to go around. Cecchini could have played short four days a week, DHed one, played second one and sat one, while Evans could have played short thrice, second thrice and sat/DHed one. Or something. The point is that both guys should be in Savannah splitting the middle infield duties.
The best that happens? Cecchini thrives and is ready for advanced-A to start 2014 and is one step closer to contributing to the big leagues.
MLB Arrival: 2017