ABERDEEN, Md. – Justin Lord, the pitching coach for Single-A Wilmington, has been able to work with several high draft picks this season.
Two of them are Cade Cavalli, a first-round pick last year out of Oklahoma, and Mitchell Parker, who went in the fifth round in 2020 out of a Texas junior college to the Nationals.
There has been mixed results with the two – Cavalli has jumped up to Double-A Harrisburg this season while Parker has split time between low Single-A Fredericksburg and high Single-A Wilmington.
“Mitchell has three really good pitches,” Lord told Federal Baseball this week during the series at Ripken Stadium against Aberdeen.
“Sometimes what guys get away with at lower levels they can’t get away with at high levels. It causes them to make adjustments and learn how to pitch differently.”
Parker was 3-10 overall with an ERA of 4.48 in 18 games, with 16 starts, between the two teams this year.
Since coming from Fredericksburg, he was 0-3, 5.48 in six starts with a WHIP of 1.65 – compared to a mark of 1.19 while in Virginia.
“The strike zone seems to tighten up from level to level,” Lord said of pitchers moving between leagues.
“The hitters are more patient so pitchers have to learn what it takes to get guys out.”
Cavalli was 3-1, 1.77 in seven starts with the Blue Rocks earlier this year, with a WHIP of 0.89 while holding batters to an average of .171.
“Cade is a very confident individual in his ability, which is huge,” said Lord, a minor league coach with the Orioles before joining Washington last year. “He believes in his stuff, he believes in his ability to get hitters out. He possesses a lot of things you like to see in a pitcher.”
“He has a good breaking ball and a good change,” Lord added. “He doesn’t try to out-stuff hitters. He can throw an off-speed pitch in a fastball count. He is not just going to attack hitters with a breaking ball when he is 0-2, 1-2. He knows how to pitch and is learning how to pitch. He is a big strong kid and is very athletic. The more he goes out there the more he learns about himself and the more he learns how to get hitters out.”
Cavalli made his 10th straight start with Harrisburg on Tuesday and struggled with his command, walking six batters and giving up three runs in 4.2 innings at Akron in Ohio.
That left him at 3-3, 3.06 with Harrisburg this year.
The Tulsa native turned 23 on August 14. That is the same birthday as Wilmington manager Tommy Shields, who was born in Fairfax, Virginia in 1964.
Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez told reporters on Tuesday that he was following Cavalli closely this season as he works his way up the organizational ladder.
“We’re keeping close eyes on Cade,” Martinez said. “He’s doing well. He’s done well in Double-A. I think there’s going to be a point where he does get moved up to Triple-A fairly soon, but we don’t have any timetable on him, we want him to continue to grow. He’s starting to learn a lot about himself and the strike zone and his mix of pitches, but we think that he’s got a bright future in this organization for a lot of years.”
As for when we might see Cavalli on a major league mound?
“There’s no timetable for when you’re going to see him here,” Martinez said, “but if he keeps continuing to grow the way he’s growing, who knows what could happen here in the future, but he obviously will be here if things keep going the way it’s going. I’m not saying this year, but fairly soon.”