WASHINGTON – Justin Lord was slated to be the pitching coach for high Single-A Fredericksburg in Washington’s system this past season.
That meant he surely would have worked with some top prospects. That could have meant Jackson Rutledge, who finished the 2019 season at low Single-A Hagerstown, or lefty Tim Cate, who made 13 starts in 2019 for high Single-A Potomac.
Lord didn’t get to take part in the 60-player pool in Virginia this summer but was on hand for instructs in Florida and was able to see right-handed pitcher Cade Cavalli, the top pick of the Nationals in June out of the University of Oklahoma.
What impressed Lord, a former minor league pitcher?
“Just his overall demeanor and approach to what he did,” Lord told Federal Baseball. “He went about his business with his routine and all of the things you like to see in a pro guy, especially a first-round pick. Obviously, he is very talented in terms of being able to throw four pitches.
“He is a competitor. He does a lot of things really well. He works hard on his talent. He doesn’t sit on it. He is a guy that I think is going to have a big future,” Lord added.
Also in West Palm Beach was Brad Holman, the pitching coordinator in player development who was also in Fredericksburg this summer to watch Cavalli.
“He got a little bit better sense of what it is really like,” Holman said of those experiences for Cavalli in Virginia and Florida.
“He was able to hang out with some of the older, veteran guys (in Virginia).
“The environment was a little more in-season in Fredericksburg than it was at Instructional League.”
“He really made the best of his opportunity this year,” said Mark Scialabba, assistant general manager, player development.
“We were fortunate to get him when we did (at No. 22 overall). The scouts did an outstanding job.”
“This year was a unique introduction to professional baseball as you could imagine, going straight from the draft to shortly thereafter being home and going to summer camp a few days and then going down to alternate camp in Fredericksburg.”
“He is very mature beyond his years. He has an idea who he is, has leadership qualities and from a pitching standpoint shows all of the ingredients you want in a front-line starter.”
Cavalli made four starts at Oklahoma in 2020 and was 8-7 in his college career in 27 games, with 18 starts.