After the Mets won 2-1 against the Cardinals Monday night, they called up Darrell Ceciliani, promoting him from Las Vegas.
There wasn’t any official announcement of a corresponding move, but the promotion puts fellow lefty outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis in a tough spot. Nieuwenhuis’ Monday go at pinch hitting saw him strike out, bringing him to 3 for 38 for the season — an average of just .079.
So far the team has been very patient with Nieuwenhuis. After all, he’s out of options. He needs to pass through waivers if he wants to get to the minors. Unfortunately, his status as bench player was further reinforced after spring training, after the team traded away Matt den Dekker in exchange for the reliever Jerry Blevins.
Ceciliani, on the other hand, was a fourth-round draft pick back in 2009 coming out of Washington State’s Columbia Basin Community College — his draft was before the current regime at the Mets. As center fielder he hit .336 (including five home runs plus 17 RBIs) over 113 at-bats while playing Pacific Coast Leaguegames, and he’s gotten a reputation for a solid defense. Fans with New York Mets baseball tickets, not to mention the team, will probably be a fair bit happier seeing him on the field instead of Nieuwenhuis.
Out of high school, Ceciliani went undrafted. Still, he had his reasons: he wasn’t devoting all his attention to baseball. Instead, he was also playing point guard on the high school’s basketball team, and free safety and receiver on his high school’s football team.
On top of that, he kept up his responsibilities on the 18,000 acre ranch his family has in Madras, Oregon. (The property, Bitter Rush Ranch, offers both hunting tours for antelope, waterfowl, and elk, as well as fishing tours for salmon, steelhead, and trout.)
In other words, Ceciliani never got a chance to play much “travel ball” as he calls it, preferring to play baseball in the summer just to hang out with his friends. Of course he always wanted to do it professionally, but at the same time he was busy at the ranch helping put food on their table.
The main business of the ranch is what Ceciliani describes as a “cow-calf operation.” They breed cows, raise calves up from birth, and eventually end up either selling them off or butchering them. Next to this is the hunting and fishing operation, where clients come in year round. Ceciliani and his brothers guide the clients on the property, and the fall is the busiest time. (Ceciliani still helps out his dad on the ranch when he gets back, after baseball season is done.)
His older brother was also a promising performer — though in football rather than baseball — but couldn’t pursue it professionally because he had to take over his family’s dairy farm after his father died.
As it happens, Ceciliani’s current manager is more or less a neighbor, as he lives inside of 25 miles from the family in Oregon.
Because his grades were not up to par, Ceciliani ended up enrolling at community college instead of heading to a Division I university when he went undrafted coming out of high school. He was fourth-round draft pick for the Mets a year later.