D-backs' Cecconi twirls 3 scoreless frames

November 5th, 2021

MESA, Ariz. -- 's mid-90s fastball and power slider made him the 33rd overall pick in the 2020 Draft and earned him a $2,384,900 bonus. And now he's even more dangerous because he has refined another weapon.

Cecconi kept Mesa off balance for three innings Thursday night with a slow curveball, leading Salt River to a 2-0 victory, a rare shutout in the offensive-minded Arizona Fall League. The No. 7 D-backs prospect struck out four, two on curveballs clocked at 70 and 71 mph that played well off his 92- to 95-mph fastball.

In college at Miami, Cecconi used a harder version of a curveball and it tended to blend with his slider. He used his pandemic downtime after signing last summer to improve his bender and now it's a go-to pitch. In 12 starts for High-A Hillsboro this year, he surrendered just one hit on his curve.

"I was able to get on a Trackman pretty consistently and start learning the shape of it, learning the spin of it, being able to control it at that speed and that break," said Cecconi, who has a 2.40 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 15 AFL innings. "I really like it for the movement and that speed difference. I've got that slider and that changeup in the mid-80s, the fastball in the mid-90s and now I have the curveball in the mid-70s."

Cecconi worked just 59 innings for the Hops in his pro debut, missing the first two weeks after injuring his left wrist when he fell during fielding drills. He didn't pitch after late July, when he came down with elbow soreness. Not only is he making up for lost time in the Fall League, but he's also working on some mechanical issues with his hips and core while trying to maintain an aggressive mentality on the mound.

"You're going up against some dogs here," Cecconi said. "There are big leaguers here, there are first-rounders everywhere scattered and it's awesome to get that opportunity because I want to play at the highest level every time I step on the field. It gives me a great opportunity to see where I'm at physically, mentally and just attack these guys."

Tigers right-hander Garrett Hill followed Cecconi with three scoreless innings before Mets righty Brian Metoyer, Tigers righty Chavez Fernander and D-backs' No. 28 prospect Keegan Curtis chipped in a frame apiece to complete the shutout. Rafters pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts, helping them scatter 13 baserunners.

Shortstop Ezequiel Tovar (COL 11) broke a scoreless tie in the fifth with his second homer of the fall, a solo shot off Blue Jays right-hander Michael Dominguez that traveled 401 feet with an exit velocity of 105 mph. Second-ranked Mets prospect Brett Baty drove in the game's other run with a single in the sixth, one of his three hits on the evening.

With the win, Salt River (7-11) moved into second place in the East Division, two games behind Mesa (9-9-1).