Barbe's Gavin Cecchini was voted Mr. Baseball by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association after hitting .413 with seven home runs, 32 RBIs and 31 stolen bases while playing shortstop. (American Press)
Last Modified: Sunday, June 03, 2012 9:35 PMGavin Cecchini is hoping to take the biggest step toward making his childhood dream come true tonight.
Cecchini will be in attendance at the Major League Baseball draft and is expected to be a first-round pick.
The former Barbe shortstop is one of 15 prospects invited to New York to attend the draft. Cecchini earned the invitation after hitting .413 with 7 home runs, 32 RBI and 31 stolen bases this season. He helped the Bucs win the Class 5A state championship and garnered Class 5A MVP honors along with the Mr. Baseball award given to the state’s most outstanding player.
Today’s first and compensation rounds will be broadcast on the Major League Baseball television network.
Cecchini hopes to follow older brother Garin into professional baseball. Garin was a fourth-round pick by the Boston Red Sox in the 2010 draft and currently plays for the Class A Greenville Drive. Through Friday, Garin was hitting .306 with three homers, 29 RBI and 19 stolen bases in 49 games.
Gavin is ranked the 16th-best prospect by Baseball America and 18th by ESPN, which projects he will be taken between picks 11-20.
Garin has played third base professionally after playing shortstop in high school. Gavin is expected to remain at short in the pros.
Gavin said coming from a baseball family has helped boost his stock.
“There will be people that will say he comes from a baseball family, and that is a benefit,” Gavin said.
“Both my parents were athletes. My brother would have been a first-round pick if he had not torn his knee up. My dad (Barbe head coach Glenn Cecchini) is one of the best coaches in the nation. He learns from the best. He is always talking to scouts and college coaches to get the program better, to get workout plans to make everyone better.”
Gavin said he is ready to test himself at the next level.
“I really can’t wait,” he said. “I accomplished everything in high school and it is time to move on. I am going to miss my friends, coaches and parents, but it is time to move to the next level and fulfill my childhood dream of playing pro ball. If I don’t get the money I want, then I will go on and play in college at Ole Miss.
“Every kid’s dream is to play pro ball.”
For the past few weeks, Gavin has toured the country working out for major league teams.
“I have loved the pre-draft process, it is awesome,” he said. “It is cool to go work out with the best guys in the nation, to be in a big league stadium and be able to meet all of the scouts. Sometimes the players are there. For a little bit, you get to have the lifestyle the big leaguers have. It really is fun and I am enjoying it a lot.”
Gavin has worked out for the Rockies, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Mets.
“I have been invited to more, but only have so much time,” he said. “We felt these were the best teams to go to, where I am projected around. Hopefully it all works out.”
Gavin said he has been getting advice from Garin about what it takes to be a successful pro.
“It is a big advantage to have him in pro ball,” the younger Cecchini said. “He calls me and tells me what they do in the pros. He comes back with drills and workouts to make me a better player. If he makes a mistake, he tells me about it so I don’t make the same thing. Garin has always been my role model. I always watched him and tried to emulate him. He is a heck of a baseball player.
“He tells me it is an everyday grind. You have to prepare mentally every day. Even though you are tired and there is a game every day, you have to work out and practice. He jokes about not getting hurt. Last year he made the All-Star team but then got hit by a 94 mph fastball and hurt his wrist and missed the end of the season. He tells me you have to flush it if you have a bad day. Baseball is a game of failure.”
Garin was projected to be a first-round pick before suffering a torn ACL early in his senior season.
“At first it was awesome to see Garin go through everything, but then when he hurt his knee it was sad because it seemed like he was not going to be able to fulfill his dream of playing pro ball,” Gavin said.
“But once he got drafted it was awesome. He got drafted by an unbelievable organization and is doing great right now. Hopefully he keeps doing well and gets promoted to high-A by the end of the year.”
Gavin does not doubt he will be a successful pro himself.
“I have unwavering belief in myself,” he said.
“That is why I am the player I am now. When I was a little kid, I always knew I was going to be good because I was going to put in the time. Most people want to be good but they don’t want to put in the time to be the player they want to be. All the best players work 24/7. It is an everyday grind. It is a job, not just baseball. My lifestyle is going to change. In pro ball, you are working out and practicing all day before a game. I can’t wait for it. This is always what I wanted to do and I knew I was going to do it ever since I picked up a bat and a ball.”
Acadiana’s Stryker Trahan, a longtime friend of Gavin Cecchini’s, is also projected to be a first-round pick.
J.T. Chargois of Rice, a Sulphur graduate, is ranked as the 64th-best prospect by ESPN. Chargois, a junior, plays first base and pitches for Rice. This year he is hitting .326 with 31 RBI and is 4-1 with eight saves and a 2.25 ERA as a pitcher. He is projected to be drafted as a relief pitcher. In 36 innings this season, he has allowed 28 hits and 12 walks and struck out 35.