Gavin Cecchini has turned from the recruited to the recruiter.
After committing to Ole Miss in early April, the standout infielder from Barbe High in Lake Charles, La., immediately remembered a fellow 2012 recruit he had met the previous weekend while taking in the Vanderbilt-Arkansas series in Fayetteville, Ark.
Not only did Cecchini text 6-foot-5, 220-pound Ty Hensley to chat about his recent news, but he also called recruiting coordinator Carl Lafferty and told him that the Rebels needed to get in on the hard-throwing right-hander from Edmond, Okla.
“We have to get the best players at Ole Miss,” Cecchini said. “I told him, ‘Coach you have to check this guy out. He’s 6-5, 225 pounds, throws 90-94 with a hammer. You have to look at this guy.’ That’s kind of how it went down, but I’m sure Coach Lafferty had seen him pitch before.
“I guess I just kind of re-mentioned (Hensley) to him.”
What about Cecchini’s subsequent call to his future teammate with the Southeast Texas Sun Devils summer baseball team?
“After I went to Ole Miss, I texted him and said, ‘dude, it’s unbelievable. I committed. You have to come,” Cecchini recalled.
“(Cecchini) told me about Ole Miss and how nice it was and how cool the atmosphere was,” Hensley said during a brief phone interview on Wednesday. “I told him it sounded like a cool place and when I visited (for the South Carolina series) it blew what he said away.
“It was amazing. The atmosphere was sweet. I loved how the players did the dance, I thought that was pretty cool. I thought all the coaches were great guys and real sincere. It’s hard to beat; I guess that’s a good way to put it.”
The baseball program and campus weren’t the only things that stood out to Henlsey on his trip.
He has also found a favorite restaurant while exploring the surrounding areas.
“Coach Lafferty told me before I got there that Oxford was pretty small, but it honestly wasn’t as small as I was anticipating it to be. I thought the area was real nice. It was kind of different from Oklahoma, there’s more trees,” Hensley said. “It was a neat surrounding I thought. The food at Taylor’s Grocery was amazing. I ate — I don’t even know how much (catfish) I ate.
“And I got to sign my name up on the wall, so that was pretty cool. I found Coach Lafferty’s from like 10 years ago, too.”
One advantage Hensley has going for him is the guidance of someone who has already gone through the recruiting process, his father Michael.
Like the younger Hensley, Michael was a standout pitcher that played for Oklahoma before spending three seasons in the St. Louis Cardinals’ farm system.
“It’s huge because a lot of kids commit so early that they don’t have a chance to go see every school they want to see and get people’s opinions,” Hensley said. “They get dead red on one school without seeing all the other options and end up regretting it later. My dad really helped me through that and told me to have an open mind and have fun with it.
“You only get to do it one time.”
Hensley’s combination of size and power on the mound also have him listed on several possible draft lists.
“I have a pretty high arm slot, sit 91-93 and can get up to 94-95,” he said. “I have a pretty good two-seam, still developing a changeup. I have a pretty good hammer, a 12-6 curveball.”
In order to improve to be an elite pitcher at the next level, Hensley admits he still has some work to do.
“(I need to) refine of all my pitches and be able to throw them in any count whenever I want,” he said.
Hensley added that he plays first base and catches for his high school and that he’d like to continue to play both ways “as long as I can.”
This weekend Hensley is taking his final college visit and is taking in the Arkansas-Ole Miss series in Fayetteville.
Hensley isn’t exactly in any rush to select a school — he lists Ole Miss, Arkansas and Arizona State as his leaders — although he’d like to have a decision made before July 1.
“But anything could happen,” he cautioned.
Below is Ty Hensley’s scouting report from scouting website Perfect Game.
“Ty Hensley is a 2012 C/3B, RHP with a 6-4 220 lb. frame from Edmond, OK who attends Santa Fe. Hensley has a big strong build, good arm strength, versatile, can play all over the field, good athlete, good raw power with the bat, switch hits, has pop, good power potential, bat projects well, High 3/4 arm slot on the mound, throws downhill, hard nasty curveball, also threw a good change up, mixes pitches well, good command, very interesting on the mound. High level follow.” (May 20, 2011, Page 6A)