Cate, 21, was a second-rounder from UConn. He appeared in 13 games with 12 starts for the short-season Single-A Auburn Doubledays and low Single-A Hagerstown Suns, going a combined 2-6 with a 5.02 ERA in 52 innings, with 45 strikeouts and 16 walks.
Irvin, 21, was a fourth-round selection from Oklahoma. He went 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA in 11 games this summer for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast Nationals and short-season Single-A Auburn. He struck out 15 in 20 2/3 innings.
Schaller, 21, a third-round selection out of Vanderbilt, also pitched for the GCL Nats and for Auburn. Schaller went 2-3 with a 4.65 ERA in 12 games over 40 2/3 innings. He notched 32 strikeouts with 12 walks.
Menhart said the organization likes to cap the number of games and innings for its collegiate pitchers fresh off the June draft. So at instructional league, the Nats were careful with these pitchers, making sure they got their work in, got acclimated to the pro environment, then allowed them a full offseason of rest.
“I think they all got a little bit college tired,” Menhart said. “But I don’t like to dissect any of them from a physical standpoint. All of them have a very bright future. They have a good professional air about them. My crystal ball tells me that they should do well.”
Menhart said the coaches don’t mess with mechanics or tweak mound strategies with such pitchers. They instead let the youngsters get a feel for camp, provide them their offseason regimen and get them ready for West Palm Beach.
But rest is a key component for these hurlers with November arriving.
“Absolutely,” Menhart said. “That’s what they need right now, and looking forward to seeing them this spring. Seeing who they really are.”
Schaller, Cate and Irvin - all from well-known, storied and successful NCAA teams, and all selected in the first five rounds - are players to watch, wherever they end up for a full season of competition in 2019.