Washington Nationals’ Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Operations Kris Kline is apparently fond of 2018 2nd Round pick Tim Cate’s curveball. Kline talked about it in the press release on the Nationals selecting the lefty out of the University of Connecticut Monday night, with the 65th overall pick of the Draft, describing the southpaw as, “an advanced collegiate starter,” with, “... one of the best left-handed curveballs in the Draft to go along with a really good fastball.”
“He is a strike thrower with a good, smooth delivery,” Kline added. He talked the left-hander up even more when he spoke to reporters about the Nationals’ top two picks before Day 2 of the Draft got underway on Tuesday.
Asked about where he was projected to end up, in the bullpen or in the rotation, and about the lefty’s height, Kline said they view him as a starter and Cate’s height was not a concern or a factor in their evaluation of the pitcher.
“Not at all. Tim is probably 6’0’’, maybe 5’11’’, they list him at 6’1’’,” Kline joked. “Sometimes dynamite comes in smaller packages.”
“This kid has always been a starter and been a starter through his collegiate career, he was a starter for Team USA. He’s had a very solid college career, high strikeout guy, for me he owns the best left-handed curveball in this draft. I think we’re lucky to get this kid where we did.”
Cate likely fell to the Nationals at No. 65 overall over some injury concerns, he dealt with forearm tightness at one point this season, but Kline said he was satisfied that the pitcher was healthy.
“Tim had Tommy John surgery when he was 16 years old in high school,” he explained.
“He had a little discomfort in the middle of the season so they shut him down temporarily, it was precautionary. Clean bill of health from the doc, so that’s all it was.
“I saw him in Clearwater, in a just kind of ease him back into — he worked out of the bullpen in the tournament, and it was really good. It was 89-94, with, actually the best curveball I’ve seen from him since we’ve been scouting him.”
Cate went (5-4) in 11 games (seven starts) for the UConn Huskies this season, posting a 2.91 ERA, 19 walks, 67 Ks, and a .258 BAA in 52 2⁄3 IP, and he also pitched for Team USA, twice in 2016-17, which Kline said gave him an opportunity to test himself against tough competition.
“It’s a great tool for us,” Kline explained, in terms of evaluation, “because these kids can only compete against the best that they can compete against, so playing for Team USA, they’re playing against the kids that they play against in college, but then Team USA they’re playing against some of the best competition that they can face at that level.
“He’s had success at every level and the highest level that he can compete at right now, so Team USA for these kids is a tremendous and Tim Cate was part of that for two years in a row.”