Cade Cavalli, the top-ranked pitcher in the Washington Nationals’ organization, on MLB’s list of the organization’s top prospects, and the club’s top pick in the 2020 Draft, had a 1.77 ERA with 12 walks and 71 strikeouts in seven starts and 40 2⁄3 IP at High-A Wilmington before the 23-year-old right-hander was promoted to Double-A Harrisburg, where he put up a 2.79 ERA with 35 walks and 80 Ks in 58 IP before he was promoted to Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday.
Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez talked earlier this month about Cavalli’s progress, when a reporter asked when we might see the hard-throwing right-hander in the majors, given their whole reboot and youth movement since the trade deadline moves at the end of July.
“We’re keeping close eyes on Cade,” the manager 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.”
Cavalli’s walks per nine jumped from 2.66 BB/9 at High-A to 5.43 BB/9 at Double-A, so that is clearly an area where he could make some improvement.
“There’s no timetable for when you’re going to see him here,” Martinez added then, “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.”
A week later, Cavalli took another step on his way to the majors when he was promoted to Triple-A Rochester.
Cavalli, 25-year-old, 2017 1st Round pick Seth Romero, and 27-year-old, 2015 11th Round pick Andrew Lee were all promoted from Double to Triple-A on Tuesday.
[ed. note - “Apologies to Andrew Lee, but Davey Martinez was only asked about Cavalli and Romero getting promoted, so that’s all we have quotes on going forward in this piece.”]
“Throwing the ball well,” Martinez said when asked about Cavalli and Romero both making the jump to Triple-A.
“Cade, obviously, he still needs to work a little bit on his control, he’s still walking guys,” the big league manager said. “But we wanted to give him an opportunity to go up and pitch in Rochester along with Romero. Romero has been up in the big leagues before. It’s just a matter of getting him ready and building up his pitch count and we feel like he’s ready to do that and we want him to get up there and compete in Triple-A and see what we have.”
Romero made his MLB debut in 2020’s 60-game COVID campaign, but the latest in a long line of injuries ended his season.
Another injury, a rib issue this time, has limited him this season, but he put together three solid starts this month before he was promoted to the club’s top minor league affiliate.
“People look and say, ‘Ooh, they’re getting closer,’ but they’ve still got to develop,” Martinez said on Tuesday afternoon. “But the fact that they’re both doing well, the good news is that Romero is healthy, and he’s throwing the ball really well, which is awesome for us, because I think he’s still a big part of our future as we all know Cade is as well, but it’s just part of their development.”
Though Romero’s three appearances last season were all in relief, he’s been starting on his way up in the system, and will continue to according to Martinez.
“As of right now, I would like for him to be stretched out and start,” Martinez explained.
“We can always do something else, but I would love for him to continue to start and stay in the rotation and build him up.”
And the biggest step Cavalli needs to take, as Martinez mentioned, is finding a way to limit the walks as he’s introduced to another level.
“He misses a lot glove-side,” the skipper said, “... and that’s something that we talk to him, sometimes he gets a little quick with his mechanics, so we’re going to keep an eye on him, but his stuff is super-electric as we all know, so if we can get him in that strike zone and lower his walk rate, he’s going to help us win a lot of games here.”