Cade Cavalli made three appearances, and one start, for the big league club in Grapefruit League action this spring, and both he and his manager talked then about recently-turned 24-year-old right-hander looking like he had the stuff to go up against big league hitters.
“I was very excited,” Cavalli said after his outing, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“I felt like I belonged there, facing those kind of hitters. And I think I showed today I can go and compete with anyone.”
“He fit right in,” Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez added.
In 20 games and 97 innings pitched this year, Cavalli has given up 39 walks (3.62 BB/9), put up 104 Ks (9.65 K/9), and held opposing hitters to a .215 BAA, with a 3.61 ERA in his second full season in the Nats’ system, after he was selected by the club 22nd overall in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft.
Feeling a breeze? It's just Cade Cavalli logging whiffs.— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 14, 2022
The No. 2 @Nationals prospect strikes out a season-high 11 batters for the @RocRedWings! pic.twitter.com/Lma4CRuiGp
Martinez, GM Mike Rizzo, the Nationals’ coaches at Triple-A, and their developmental staff have been watching Cavalli closely all season, assuming he’d get the call at some point in 2022, when the organization decided he was ready.
“He’s going to be a good big league pitcher for us,” Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies last Wednesday. “I’m excited to see him when he gets here, and when the reports are that he’s ready to come to the big leagues, we certainly will not hesitate to bring him here.”
“We want to see him pitch,” Martinez said before yesterday’s game with the Mariners on the road in Seattle.
“And we want to see him compete. We don’t want to see him sitting for a long period of time. We want to get him out there.”
So Cavalli is being thrown right into the mix. Martinez talked about expectations for the young starter going into tomorrow’s outing.
“We really got to understand that he’s worked really hard,” the manager explained, “but yet he’s fairly young, especially young to the pitching part of it, right?
“So there’s going to be kind of a little bit of a process. We all want him to do well. That’s one thing for sure, everybody.
“We want him to come up here and succeed. But it’s going to come with — we’re going to have to take our time with him.
“And he’s still learning a lot of different things. But his stuff definitely plays. It really does. So like I said, we’ll get an opportunity get him up here, put no pressure on him and just let him go out there and compete.”
Rizzo too, talking to the Junkies, stressed the fact Cavalli is relatively inexperienced at this point in his development.
“You also got to remember he did have a great college career, but he didn’t pitch much,” Rizzo said of Cavalli’s time at the University of Oklahoma, where the righty took the mound a total of 27 times, 18 times as a starter, logging just 101 1⁄3 IP as a Sooner.
“He was a two-way player, he’s really new to pitching, and he’s really learned fast and on the run,” Rizzo continued, “and when you talk about a guy who had a limited amount of innings in high school and college as he has, he’s made a meteoric rise through the minor league rankings, and I think he’s just scratching the surface.”
“We’re excited,” Martinez added on Wednesday. “He’s going to come. He’s checked a lot of the boxes. With that being said, like I said, with all of our young guys, part of the process is patience, right?
Cade Cavalli struck out 11 in his last start.— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 20, 2022
The @Nationals' top pitching prospect began today's game for the Triple-A @RocRedWings by striking out the side. pic.twitter.com/C4cmiQ2nuf
“And so we’re going to get him up here and get him going, and see how he does. But he’s done well in Rochester, really well, as the numbers will indicate.”
And those boxes he checked?
“His breaking ball, throwing it for strikes early in counts,” Martinez said. “His changeup. We talked a lot about him developing a changeup. He’s done that.
“He’s been throwing them 12-15-18 times a game now, he feels comfortable throwing them, so that was definitely a plus for us.”
Now it’s time to see how he reacts in his first taste of major league action.
“We’ll get him up here, and like I said, he’ll get an opportunity to start here for us the last five, six weeks of the season,” Martinez said.