WASHINGTON – The Nationals used five pitchers on Tuesday in their first Instructional League game – one was a first-round pick while another was taken in the 36th round.
Cade Cavalli, the top pick in 2020 out of the University of Oklahoma, went three innings as the starter, and fellow right-hander Joan Adon, who made an impression in the 60-player pool this summer in Fredericksburg, also went three innings as the Nationals won 4-3 at home in West Palm Beach, FL over the Miami Marlins.
Three other hurlers went one inning each: Gabe Klobosits, Niomar Gomez, and Matt Cronin.
Drafted in the 36th-round out of Auburn in 2017, Klobosits was teammates for part of last season with Gomez in the NY/Penn League and at low Single-A Hagerstown of the South Atlantic League, where Cronin pitched as well.
Cronin was part of the 60-player pool this summer.
“It was a little bit of an adjustment at first, just facing more seasoned hitters, guys who knew the zone a little better and are used to seeing higher quality stuff, and I was struggling just attacking hitters when I first got here, but after the adjustment was made I’ve been performing well and it’s been a good time,” Cronin told Federal Baseball last month.
A fourth-round pick in 2019 out of the University of Arkansas, Cronin had a 0.82 ERA in 17 games out of the bullpen last year for Hagerstown and gave up just 11 hits in 22 innings.
The pitching coach for the day was Sam Narron, a North Carolina native who was slated to be the pitching coach at Double-A Harrisburg this past year.
The bullpen coach for the IL opener was Justin Lord, in his first season with the Nationals.
The former Florida State pitcher was the pitching coach at Single-A Frederick in the Baltimore system last year and was slated to have the same job under manager Tripp Keister at Single-A Fredericksburg – also in the Carolina League – in 2020.
Lord spent most of the shutdown at home in Georgia after being in West Palm Beach for the start of Spring Training 1.0. He was glad to be back on the field Tuesday.
“It was pretty exciting; I was giddy,” Lord told Federal Baseball on Tuesday. “It was nice to put on the uniform again.”