Mets Find Middle Ground With Cecchini, Plawecki





NEW YORK—For the second year in a row the Mets fixated on up-the-middle talent when selecting position players in the draft. They opted for Louisiana prep shortstop Gavin Cecchini with the 12th pick and Purdue catcher Kevin Plawecki at No. 35 in the supplemental round.

"I don't think we go into the draft thinking we want to target anything that's related to the major league club or any even specific need within our system," vice president of scouting and player development Paul DePodesta said.

"(However), we love middle-of-the-diamond players—catchers, shortstops, center fielders—if we can get them. And so we do target those players, regardless. And so needless to say, we were thrilled to come up with a shortstop in the first round and a catcher in the comp round."

The Mets had long been connected with Cecchini, whose father was his coach at Barbe High in Lake Charles and his brother Garin is a talented third baseman in the Red Sox system. Gavin is more settled as a fielder, and the Mets believe he can remain at shortstop as he ascends the minor league ladder. He hit .413 as a senior en route to a state title.

Cecchini, a Mississippi commit, visited the Mets for a workout on June 1 and remained in attendance for Johan Santana's no-hitter that night, the first in the organization's 51-season history.

"This is who I wanted to be drafted by all along," Cecchini said. "There's not a better place to play baseball than New York. So I'm really happy, and I can't wait to get my career started and get out and play."

Plawecki pounded the baseball for the Boilermakers this season, finishing with a 1.021 OPS as a junior. In 208 at-bats, he struck out just eight times. Scouting director Tommy Tanous insisted that the Mets considered Plawecki the best catcher in the draft, ahead of even Florida backstop Mike Zunino, the third overall selection by the Mariners.

Plawecki called his own pitches in college, and Mets officials raved about his receiving skills.

"He's a really interesting player offensively," Tanous said. "He does not strike out, yet he has a mix of power. We think this guy is going to be really special, both defensively and offensively."

METAMORPHOSES

• Righthander Elvin Ramirez made his big league debut on June 3, about a year and a half after the Nationals made him the top pick in the 2010 major league Rule 5 draft. Washington returned Ramirez to the Mets after he missed all of 2011 with an arm injury, but he returned to form this season, notching 35 strikeouts in 28 innings and allowing two runs total in Double-A and Triple-A.

• In his first full season as a Mets farmhand, righthander Zack Wheeler led Double-A Eastern League starters in strikeout rate (10.3 per nine innings) and opponent average (.169) en route to a 5-2, 1.88 record through nine starts.