Feature Photo: Gavin Cecchini, 2B/SS, Mets
Tyler Herb (RHP, Giants) needs to limit hard contact if he expects to advance any further in the Giants’ system; Gavin Cecchini (2B/SS, Mets) is looking more and more like a bat-first second baseman at Triple-A Las Vegas who should see a late-season call-up to New York, and Ronald Guzman (1B, Rangers) has made adjustments and hit at every level of pro ball, giving him a projectable future as an above-average, everyday regular for the Rangers.
2080 Prospect Spotlights
Tyler Herb, RHP, Giants (Double-A Richmond, Eastern League)
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/175 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of April 1st 2017): 24y 11m
Drafted in the 29th round by Mariners in the 2014 MLB Draft, Herb was recently traded to the Giants (for cash) on July 3 and assigned to Richmond. Throwing just over six innings per start this season, he is a workhorse on the mound, averaging 140.0 innings the past two seasons, and he is on pace to top that total this season, while having landed on the DL only once during his career (in 2015). 2080’s Dave DeFreitas wrote about him last year when he was with the High A Bakersfield Blaze.
In my view of Herb on July 14 versus Harrisburg, he displayed an average fastball ranging from 89-to-92 mph (T93), showing the ability to hit to all quadrants with average command. The pitch missed over the plate at times resulting in hard contact, but his ability to keep the ball down in the zone limits the damage. He used a below-average cutter which sat 86-to-89 mph, but lacked enough feel for it to be effective. His above-average curveball sat 76-to-79 mph with good deception and 11-to-5 break, and he used it mostly to the lefties in the lineup.
Expected to reach over 450 innings for his career in the minor leagues by the end of the 2017 season, Herb is at a critical point in his career – with overall below-average numbers at this point, he will need to show the Giants he has consistent feel and command to limit hard contact in order to earn a promotion beyond his current level. Even if he finds some renewed success with his new team, he still may only top out as a Role 30 organizational player. – Alexis Collins
Gavin Cecchini, 2B/SS, Mets (Triple-A Las Vegas, Pacific Coast League)
Ht/Wt: 6’2’’/200 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of April 1, 2017): 23y 3m
Cecchini was chosen by the Mets in the first round (#12 overall) of the 2012 MLB Draft. He doesn’t have any eye-popping tools or flashiness to his game, but he could have some value as a utility infielder, with a ceiling as a second division, everyday second baseman.
During my views of Cecchini during a recent series versus Tacoma, he displayed average bat speed and a level swing plane but he got long through the zone at times, leaving him vulnerable to plus velocity and good offspeed pitches. On occasion his hips open early and he gets out on his front foot, also leading to some struggles with offspeed. That being said, Cecchini has done a nice job of keeping his strikeout rate low (12.3% in 2017, 11% in 2016), while having a keen eye for the strike zone and a willingness to use the whole field.
Cecchini has soft hands and clean footwork defensively, but is stiff in his throwing motion at times, hindering the accuracy of his throws. He has the range and arm strength to handle spot duty at shortstop, but is better suited for second base when it comes to regular duty.
On the bases, Cecchini displays average raw speed with good instincts, and he’ll swipe the occasional base, but isn’t overly aggressive o the bases. His speed plays better once underway, allowing him to go from first-to-third base, and score from first on a double.
Cecchini’s ultimate role will hinge on how much he hits. If his bat plays, he’ll have the opportunity to be an average second division, everyday second baseman. However, with his struggles with good off-speed pitches and plus velocity, it’s much more likely that he’ll land as a Role 40 utility infielder who can handle occasional work at shortstop. One could expect Cecchini to get another taste of the big leagues this year when rosters expand in September. Without a long-term commitment by the Mets to a second baseman at present, Cecchini could have the opportunity to compete for the job going into spring training 2018. – Spencer Hansen
Ronald Guzman, 1B, Rangers (Triple-A Round Rock, Pacific Coast League)
Ht/Wt: 6’5”/205 lbs. B/T: L/L Age (as of April 1, 2017): 22y 7m
Guzman has long been known as one of the more projectable, high-end talents in the Rangers’ system, so at age 22, it feels like he has been around forever after debuting in the AZL at 17 years old in 2012.
Guzman has a long, lanky frame and is a good athlete, making him one of the more projectable prospects in the Rangers’ system. He moves well for his size, and he has the foot speed to test the arms in the outfield going form first-to-third base, however he is limited to first base, or a corner-outfield spot. The hit and power tools are going to be what carry this youngster at the next level, and based on what he has been able to accomplish since entering full-season ball in 2014, the Rangers’ fan base have to be seeing shades of current outfield stud Nomar Mazara.
Guzman has posted a .156 ISO mark through 452 plate appearances at High A High Desert in 2015, and he followed that up with a .189 mark in 2016 at Double-A Frisco, with the batting average, walk percentage, and strikeout rates all trending in the right direction. So far this year, he has continued those trends through 415 plate appearances for Triple-A Round Rock.
There is not a ton of effort to Guzman’s game – the swing is easy, and he does a good job keeping the barrel in the strike zone. He stays balanced, and has the ability to drive the ball with authority to the opposite field. The approach is still a bit immature in that he will over-swing trying to do too much, and roll over balls on the outer half that he should be driving in the left-center field gap. Right now the majority of his home run pop is to the pull field, but 11 of his 17 doubles in 2017 have been between center field and the left field line, so the ability is obviously there to work the ball to the opposite field.
Guzman still has a lot of room to fill out, and he will get stronger as the body reaches maturity. Body control should follow, which will translate to more consistent hard contact. He has his struggles versus lefties, hitting 90 points lower (.250) with a meager .644 OPS and almost double the strikout rates through 116 plate appearances facing southpaws. Guzman has a slightly showy style of play that can come across as lackadaisical at times, and it can lead to occasional mental lapses – something that is not uncommon for a young player. That said, this is a kid who has adjusted and hit at every level he’s been to – the ingredients are there for him to turn into a very productive, above-average major league regular. – Dave DeFreitas