Slade Cecconi Flourished After Turning Pro
Righthander Slade Cecconi thought he made the most of his time during quarantine—and he thinks it helped him make the most of his time at the alternate training site and instructional league this year.
Cecconi was a sort of post-draft revelation for the D-backs this fall, showing dominant stuff and generating overpowering results, to the point that some already view him as the organization’s top pitching prospect.
“A big goal of mine was to go out and really show people what I know I can do,” Cecconi said. “I haven’t necessarily been able to showcase what I’m capable of yet."
The 21-year-old said he wants to prove Arizona right for drafting him in the supplemental first round out of Miami.
Cecconi came with the reputation for good stuff but only so-so results. He put everything together, albeit in only a handful of innings, before reaching his innings limit in October.
“It was pretty amazing,” D-backs farm director Josh Barfield said. “This guy came in and was one of the most polished college pitchers I’ve seen in a long, long time. He jumped right into the 60-man camp and flat-out dominated there from day one, and he continued to do the same thing at instructional league.”
Cecconi has a fastball that ranges from 94-98 mph along with two plus breaking balls—a slider and a curveball—and a changeup that flashes above-average. But he had a tendency in college to get hit harder than that kind of stuff would suggest.
Cecconi credits his success to a variety of adjustments he made since turning pro. He put on about five pounds of muscle. He worked to make his changeup more firm and to throw his curveball a bit harder. He also believes he improved at locating his fastball up in the zone.
“It’s things I wouldn’t normally be able to work on (as aggressively) in bullpens in-between starts because I’d always be trying to stay fresh,” he said. “I feel like now that I had that opportunity to dial in and focus on getting stronger and make a few little adjustments, I feel like that really made all the difference for me to reach my full potential.”
— Outfielder Jake McCarthy is opening eyes with a rebuilt swing, hitting balls hard with regularity, and has added to his versatility by learning to play first base. McCarthy was a supplemental first-round pick at No. 39 overall in 2018 out of Virginia.