The Washington Nationals’ top 2020 pick, Cade Cavalli, was projected to go in the first round of the MLB Draft earlier this month, and he did. The 21-year-old right-hander was excited to hear his name called on Day 1, when the defending World Series champs took him 22nd overall.
“It was awesome,” Cavalli said shortly after he was selected. “I was grateful to even have my name called. You’ve got to keep a really good perspective.
“There’s mock drafts where they put you in — wherever, they said I slid, or whatever, but I know I ended up in the right place, the right organization, and I know it’s in God’s hands, I’m going to be around great people, great organization, I can’t be happier.”
Though he knew it was likely to happen, it still hit him hard when it actually happened.
“The emotions were unreal,” Cavalli told reporters. “I just burst out into tears. I really didn’t think I was going to cry, but you know I heard my name, and all my parents and my family and all my friends that supported me and it was just a flood of emotion and I just started crying.”
“I really didn’t expect to cry,” he added. “I knew it was a possibility, I just thought I would be more hype, but man, it felt good, and I just started crying like I couldn’t explain it.”
Cavalli went (8-7) in 27 games (18 of them starts) over his three seasons with the University of Oklahoma Sooners, posting a 4.18 ERA, 53 walks, and a total of 114 Ks in 101 1⁄3 innings in his collegiate career.
“Cavalli has just improved tremendously each year he’s been at the University of Oklahoma,” Sooners’ catcher and fellow 2020 Nats’ draft pick Brady Lyndsly said after he was selected in the 4th Round.
“[Sooners’ coach] Skip Johnson, who’s the head coach there now, does a wonderful job with pitchers,” Nationals’ Assistant GM and VP of Scouting ops Kris Kline said after Rd. 1 wrapped up.
“[They] did some fine-tuning with [Cavalli’s] mechanics and his delivery, and he’s definitely arrow-up. He is going in the right direction, and I’m really excited he’s part of our group.”
In four starts and 23 2⁄3 IP in his junior year, the righty had a 4.19 ERA, five walks (1.90 BB/9), and struck out 37 of the 96 batters he faced (14.07 K/9).
“It’s a four-pitch mix,” Kline said when asked to give reporters scout’s take on Cavalli.
“He’s got an above-average major league slider now that he commands. The curveball is probably the fourth pitch in the mix. There’s flashes of a solid-average pitch. It will be a nice weapon for him as maybe a get-over type to get ahead in the count at times, and then the changeup — he has an above-average feel for that as well.
“And he’ll need to start incorporating that more into his mix as he gets out into pro ball.
“He’s got three pitches that he can put hitters away with and the ability to command them and he’s really turned the corner.
“He’s a big physical pitcher,” GM Mike Rizzo said.
“He’s got really good stuff. He comes from a really good baseball conference. We’ve got great history on him over the years. We’ve seen him pitch past summers and past seasons. We have a really good feel for his stuff, how much he’s improved over the years, his make-up and his character, and we couldn’t be happier to have gotten him at [No. 22]. We feel that he’s a good value there. And all of the make-up work that we’ve done on him points to a guy that’s a high-character guy, with really good stuff, and just we feel is on the cusp of really taking the next step and doing something big.”
This afternoon, the Nationals announced that they agreed to a deal with Cavalli. Details of the deal were were not included in the announcement. The slot value for the 22nd overall pick was $3,027,000.