NEW YORK -- If the Mets needed any validation for their year-long faith in Gavin Cecchini as their first pick in Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft, they got it on Friday. On the night Cecchini visited Citi Field to meet with management and players, he also witnessed the first no-hitter in Mets' history.
"You don't get to see too many no-hitters," Cecchini said. "And I was there to witness it for the first time in the Mets history. It was unbelievable. The place was rocking."
New York took Cecchini with the 12th overall pick three days later, securing its shortstop of the future and adding another young bat to the organization.
"I don't want to be with any other team besides the Mets. I wanted to be here all along," Cecchini said. "There's not a better place to play baseball than New York. I can't wait to get my career started."
With the Mets' top three prospects in the organization of the pitcher variety, the organization focused on continuing to replenish its position players, building off the model it set last year by selecting high school outfielder Brandon Nimmo in the first round.
"He's someone that we feel is going to bat at the top of the order," Mets director of amateur scouting Tommy Tanous said about Cecchini. "Tremendous makeup kid. His brother is in the Red Sox organization. He comes from a very successful baseball family."
His father is a high school baseball coach, which Tanous believes helped instill baseball intuition in Cecchini and his brother. An offensive-minded player from Barb High School in Louisiana, Cecchini doesn't give much away defensively either, and the Mets intend to keep him at shortstop throughout his development in the Minor Leagues.
Twenty-three picks later, New York selected catcher Kevin Plawecki with its compensatory-round pick it received when Jose Reyes signed with Miami. Tanous said the Purdue product was the best catcher in the draft.
Plawecki mixes a good eye with solid power at the plate. In 223 at-bats this season, the former Boilermaker struck out eight times. He helped lead Purdue to the Big Ten championship with a .359 average, seven home runs and 47 RBIs.
"I think I just have a good eye," Plawecki said. "I can recognize things very well. I just try to make a main focus of mine to put a good swing on every at-bat. I just have a good plan, a good approach at the plate, and I think that's why I've been so successful to this point."
Vice president of player development and scouting Paul DePodesta said the Mets didn't go into the Draft looking to fill any holes after the departure of Reyes, Angel Pagan and Carlos Beltran during the last offseason. Cecchini was a perfect 29-for-29 on the basepaths this season, but his influx of speed is merely a result of the organization's emphasis on strong athletes and not the loss of Reyes and his peers.
"I don't think we go into the Draft thinking that we want to target anything that's related to the big league club, or even anything related to our system," DePodesta said. "That said, we love middle-of-the-diamond players -- catchers, shortstops, center fielders, if we can get them. We do target those players regardless. ... We think those players have multiple ways to help a team. They're incredibly hard to find, and in [Cecchini and Plawecki] in particular, they're both offensive and defensive."
Fourteen of the 18 position players the Mets took in the 40 rounds of the Draft were middle infielders or catchers.
The Mets added another versatile offensive player in the second round with Arkansas third baseman Matt Reynolds, who could profile more as a utility man as he moves up the organizational ranks.
"He's going to play shortstop for us," DePodesta said. "As he moves up, we probably see him as a second baseman or shortstop in the future. He really does a lot of things we like offensively. We see him moving fairly quickly through the organization."
With their second pick in Round 2, the Mets chose high school pitcher Theodore Stankiewicz from Ft. Worth Christian High School in Texas. Continuing the Razorback trend, the young right-hander is committed to Arkansas next season.
"He really has excellent ability and command of his stuff," DePodesta said. "He has some velocity, and a quality breaking pitch to go along with it."
New York surprised everyone by taking Hawaiian middle infielder Branden Kauke in the fourth round. DePodesta and his scouts saw Kauke in an Arizona showcase, where the Baldwin High School product hit an inside-the-park home run, flashing his speed and power. The knock on Kauke was his height, but DePodesta said even at 5-foot-7, he liked everything about the young shortstop.
After grabbing position players from rounds six through nine, the Mets focused on grabbing young high school pitchers in the later rounds. Tanous said there were a few players the Mets selected late that his team had ranked much higher.
One of those players was 13th rounder Matthew Bowman from Princeton University. Bowman was a player the organization wanted to grab for his Tim Lincecum-like delivery and an interesting mix of athleticism that helped him pitch and play in the field at school. DePodesta said his staff was intent on taking the Ivy Leaguer, but it was just a matter of where to take him off the board.
"At our workout, he was actually up at 95 mph, but was pitching mainly at 93-94 with plus life on his fastball," DePodesta said. "We like the athletic package and think he has some upside when he focuses on pitching full time."
For the final tally, the Mets took 24 high school players and 18 who had played some form of college baseball.