After recently receiving his Italian citizenship and playing for Team Italy in the WBSC Europe-Africa Olympic Qualifier in Bologna and Parma, proud Italian American Gavin Cecchini is ready for combat on the Canberra Cavalry roster during the 2019-2020 Australian Baseball League (ABL) season. Selected in the first round of the 2012 MLB draft by the New York Mets out of Barbe High School in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Gavin Cecchini was born to perform. He helped his South Lake Charles Little League team advance to the 2006 Little League Baseball World Series as the Southwestern Region Champion and pitched six scoreless innings in his squad's lone win in the tourney. A decade later Gavin Cecchini made his MLB debut for the New York Mets as a September call-up in 2016.
Fast forward three years and Gavin Cecchini finds himself 9,000 miles from home in Canberra, a special baseball oasis between the Pacific and Indian Oceans in the Southern Hemisphere. After a heartbreaking loss in the Australian Baseball League Grand Final series two years ago and being eliminated in the semi-finals last season, Canberra Cavalry CEO Donn McMichael is on the prowl for the elusive Claxton Shield, the trophy awarded to the winner of the ABL Championship title. With the addition and help of two MLB-experienced players, infielder Gavin Cecchini and pitcher J.J. Hoover (Cincinnati Reds, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Milwaukee Brewers), the Canberra Cavalry front office believes a third consecutive playoff bid will yield the Claxton Shield and the club's first ABL Championship title since the 2012-2013 season.
Canberra Cavalry director Donn McMichael is not a person who regularly makes bold predictions, but when it includes an astrological forecast involving stars one must take it seriously. He declared, "Cecchini's a star. Cecchini will be an absolute star. He's a second baseman and a shortstop, which is exactly what we need. He's got all the talent, he's got the gear, and he's only 25."
The stars aligned perfectly for Gavin Cecchini's arrival in Canberra, the capital city of Australia. Electing free agency on November 4, 2019, Gavin Cecchini and his agent had to decide between interested clubs in Australia and Mexico. In the end, Canberra was the natural choice. Donn McMichael said, "He was very sought after. His agent came to us just by pure chance. He heard that Canberra was okay, and he was looking for a safe destination..."
Gavin Cecchini and 33-year-old Canberra Cavalry teammate J.J. Hoover are using the upcoming ABL season as an opportunity to reboot their careers and to get a second look by pro scouts. Playing for the Canberra Cavalry has proven to be productive for some who later enjoyed success in MLB. Canberra Cavalry manager Keith Ward commented, “We are a good breeding ground for developing players. Examples include Didi Gregorious, who is now playing with the New York Yankees, and Tampa Bays’ Kevin Kiermaier.”
Aussie baseball fans remember Canberra Cavalry infielder Adam Buschini, who entered the ABL as a free agent after being released by the Philadelphia Phillies and went on to win the 2012-2013 Helms Award, the Most Valuable Player of the Claxton Shield. He was rewarded with another chance of making it in professional baseball after being offered a contract with the San Diego Padres. Following in Adam Buschini's footsteps, Gavin Cecchini plans on re-establishing himself and proving that he is worthy of MLB consideration by way of a monster season in the ABL.
Entering its 10th season in the ABL, the Canberra Cavalry compete in 40 regular season contests beginning with a four-game series at home against four-time defending ABL champion Melbourne Aces from November 21-24, 2019. To keep up on the Canberra Cavalry schedule, click HERE. To watch live streaming Canberra Cavalry games hosted by the great veteran broadcaster Chris Coleman, click HERE. Forza #Italia!
by Roberto Angotti