The University of Miami is one of college baseball’s great programs. It has produced pitchers like Danny Graves and Alex Fernandez. The highest selection for a Miami pitcher is Rob Murphy‘s third overall selection in 1981. Slade Cecconi won’t go that early in the 2020 MLB Draft but he is a strong prospect coming out of south Florida.
Slade Cecconi 2020 MLB Draft Profile
The right-handed Cecconi is listed as the 31st-best prospect on MLB’s current big board. He stands 6’4″, 219 pounds. That is prototypical size for a major league starter. He was early into his sophomore year before the NCAA cancelled the remainder of baseball in 2019. The Baltimore Orioles originally selected Cecconi in the 38th round of the 2018 draft. Cecconi opted to attend college and improve his draft stock.
Cecconi has a strong four-pitch mix with a fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. The fastball is the best at a 60/80 right now but the slider is also a plus offering. MLB.com currently rates it as a 55/80. The curve and changeup are at 45s right now but there is plenty of promise in the secondary offerings.
The fastball typically sits around 96 MPH, but he needs to develop better stamina throughout outings. His slider is also quite good with a velocity of around 87 MPH. The fastball/slider combination is very popular in modern baseball and should form the core of Cecconi’s repertoire. He will also need to improve the curveball or changeup if he wants to stick as a starter. The two secondary pitches are both 45s right now but there is potential for more. At worst, his primary pitch combo would look great in a major league bullpen thanks to its velocity and movement.
Cecconi was off to a solid start in 2020. He had four starts for the Hurricanes with a 3.80 ERA and 30 strikeouts compared to just seven walks in 21 1/3 innings. His best game came in a 9-3 win over Towson. Cecconi did give up three earned runs in the fifth inning but still pitched 4 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts and three walks.
Cecconi has some issues with command at this point in his career. He walked a very average three batters per nine innings in 2020. That would be fine if Cecconi were in professional baseball but it won’t impress anyone looking at college stats for top programs. It’s also a worse rate than in 2019 when he walked just two batters per nine in 80 innings pitched. Cleaning up the free passes should be one of Cecconi’s top priorities.
Cecconi’s other issue is stamina. He has seen his velocity drop off in games, and he failed to go more than five innings twice in four starts. That is a concern for someone with stuff as good as Cecconi’s. Some of that might be due to a lack of experience but it lowers his potential ceiling in the absence of more games. He is only a sophomore so returning to college for a full season might be an idea. That would allow Cecconi to clean things up and push his draft stock into the first round.
One of Cecconi’s best comps might be Jon Gray of the Colorado Rockies. Gray is a very similar build at 6’4″, 227 pounds and his fastball in 2019 was consistently around 96 MPH like Cecconi’s. Gray largely threw the same fastball/slider/curveball/changeup mixture. Baseball Savant also tracked a tiny number of sinkers, but there is plenty of overlap in Gray and Cecconi’s profiles.
Gray has had an up-and-down career with Colorado but has been a consistent presence for the past four years. He has struck out over nine batters per nine innings and generally survived the perils of Coors Field.
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