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June 3, 2012 at 12:30 PM

Draft Special: Q&A with Gavin Cecchini


Gavin Cecchini (Perfect Game)
As part of SoxProspects.com's annual draft coverage, we are highlighting top draft eligible prospects with local or Red Sox ties. Check out the first Q&A in this year's series with Rhett Wiseman.  
Gavin Cecchini’s weakness might be that he works too hard. The Barbe High School phenom had to take nearly a month off at the beginning of his senior season because he had simply overused his body in an attempt to get ready for one of the biggest seasons of his life. 
Cecchini’s ruthless work ethic produced outstanding results over his high school career. After overcoming a tough offensive start to his freshman year, Cecchini took off and shined his last two seasons. In his junior year, he hit .532 with only 11 strikeouts, and hit .381 his senior year. He was the Most Valuable Player of the 2011 Under Armour All-American Game, and he led Team USA in hitting all while maintaining an impressive 3.9 GPA. 
Baseball runs in the Cecchini family. Both of his parents are baseball coaches, and his father, Glenn, has been the head coach at Barbe High School for the past 26 seasons, coaching top prospects and first-round picks. Cecchini’s older brother, Garin Cecchini, was drafted by the Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2010 and is currently playing for Low-A Greenville. When it comes to the draft, Cecchini knows what to expect.
With the highest fielding-percentage in Barbe High School history and a commitment to Ole Miss, the shortstop is projected to go between picks 10-20 in the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Cecchini and I recently spoke over the phone about his experience playing for his father, how he learned to overcome failure, and what he has learned from his older brother. 
Elizabeth Dreeson: When I spoke with Garin a couple of seasons ago, he mentioned that one of his biggest challenges in high school was playing under his father simply because his peers would often assume that he was only playing because his father was the head coach. Did you face similar adversity? 
Gavin Cecchini: I faced that challenge. I started as a freshman, and I had people booing me during games from my old school saying I’m just playing because my dad is the head coach.  
My brother and I went through the same thing. My dad is going to be tougher on us than all the rest of the players of course. There are always those people that are going to be jealous of you and try to bring you down to their level. 
ED: You had a poor offensive start to your freshman season, but then you really turned it around. What clicked? What was the biggest difference between those seasons? 
GC: I think the biggest difference from my freshman year to my sophomore year was just maturing my body. I didn’t really know how to handle failure. I had never failed in my entire life up to my freshman year. Not many freshman start at Barbe High School, and I was one of the younger kids and did not know how to handle failure. When I had one bad game, I’d let it carry over to the next game, and it was a trend. I didn’t really know how to handle it, so my dad benched me for a few games and made me realize that it’s just a game and you’re supposed to have fun. You’re supposed to take it one pitch or one play at a time. I learned how to handle and deal with failure, and at the end of my freshman year I helped our team make it to the semi-finals. Now that I know how to handle failure, I’ve really taken off. 
ED: Everything I’ve read indicates that you have an incredible work ethic—so much so that you almost injured yourself your senior season. Is this work ethic a product of your struggles your freshman season, or is it something else? 
GC: I’ve always worked hard and tried to put myself in the best position to succeed. I’ve always worked out hard and taken a million ground balls and a million hacks. This year I just over did it. I was looking at it as the draft coming up and I was going to do more than I always did—more than I had to do, but it was too much more. I was working out three or four times a day and pulling tires and my body didn’t have any recovery time. My body just kind of shut down and my hamstrings started getting tight. I was taking 500-600 swings a day and your body is not made to do that, and my body just shut down. 
My advisor had Ken Griffey Jr. as his client and he had tight hamstrings one year and he played through it and ended up tearing both of them. Knowing that, I knew I needed to slow down and stop and rest, so I took three weeks off, and I was back at it in about a month or so. I did not hit or take ground balls. I’ve always worked harder than everyone else and that’s just how I look at things. If I want to be the best player I can be, I have to work harder than everyone else: get there earlier than everyone else and stay later. That’s what I did, and it was too much, and I’ve learned my lesson now. 
ED: How has your brother’s experience with the draft and playing for a professional club contributed to your approach to the draft? 
GC: Whenever you have an older brother that has already been through the whole situation that I’m about to be in, it really does help. I was with my brother when he got drafted. I listened to all the phone calls when the scouts called, and I played with him during [his senior season] until he tore his ACL. I know what to expect. Some of these guys go in and they don’t know. They’ve never had brothers or siblings or teammates drafted, and I’m fortunate enough that both my parents are coaches and they’ve had players that are top prospects and first rounders. I’ve been there to see them get drafted. It can be overwhelming because what happens in the next two days can change your life forever and you can find yourself in a totally different place somewhere across the country. 
ED: What’s are the differences between being recruited by a college team and a pro team? 
GC: It’s kind of the same thing. College coaches are going to come to your games just like pro scouts are going to come to your games. I think a big difference is that pro scouts can talk to you after your games, but with college they can’t talk to you [until a certain date] because it’s against NCAA regulations. I think it’s after your junior year that they can actually talk to you and call you whereas pro scouts can call you or talk to you whenever they want. 
ED: Your brother made the transition to third base when he joined the Red Sox organization. Could you see yourself changing positions? 
GC: I won’t move from shortstop. My brother and I, our bodies are different. He’s 6’3”, 215 with wide hips. I’m 6’1,” 185 and I have narrow hips. Usually when you see the players that play shortstop, they’re about my size and they can move really well laterally. I think wherever I get drafted all the teams see me as a shortstop and they’re going to let me play shortstop until I show them that I can’t. 
ED: Do you have a favorite player that has inspired you or that you try to emulate? 
GC: My favorite player is no doubt Derek Jeter. He’s great and he’s going to be a Hall-of-Famer and you always see him playing the game hard. You see other big league players think they have it made and they don’t have to run balls out hard and do their job. If [Jeter] pops one up to the pitcher, he’s running hard and that’s why I like him so much. Also, you never hear anything negative about him off the field. He’s the ultimate professional. 
ED: What is your greatest strength and weakness at this point? 
GC: My weakenss would be that sometimes I try to do too much. I’ve been to tournament's before where there’s a lot of scouts there and I’ll try to hit home runs and I’ll get outside myself. Trying to do too much will sometimes be my weakness and I’ve learned from that. I’ve gotten better from that. 
I think every part of my game is my strength. I can run, I can field, I can hit for power, for average, I’m a five-tool player. 


Elizabeth Dreeson is a special contributor for SoxProspects.com Follow her on Twitter @Eli_Dreesox 

 
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