If you’re in need of a little pick-me-up following Wednesday night’s extra-inning loss to the Phillies, here’s one that might do the trick: Cade Cavalli’s professional career is off to a fantastic start.
The Nationals’ 2020 first-round pick authored another impressive outing Wednesday for high Single-A Wilmington, tossing five scoreless innings while striking out eight during an eventual 1-0 win over Jersey Shore.
Cavalli surrendered only one hit, a third-inning single by Jonathan Guzman, and though he walked three batters he never let anyone from the BlueClaws lineup cross the plate during his 83-pitch outing.
In fact, the 22-year-old right-hander has yet to allow anyone to cross the plate as a professional. In two starts now for the Blue Rocks, Cavalli has tossed a total of 10 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and four walks while striking out 15.
It’s enough to make you wonder if he might not be long for Single-A ball. The Nationals have shown a willingness to fast-track top prospects through their farm system if deserving. It’s probably too soon to ponder such matters, but if Cavalli continues to overwhelm the hitters in this league, the organization might believe he’s worthy of a promotion to Double-A Harrisburg sometime this summer.
For the Nats, it could be a tough call. Both Cavalli and 2019 first-round pick Jackson Rutledge appear to have the pitching repertoires to merit promotion to a higher level. But because neither righty was able to pitch anywhere in 2020 other than the club’s alternate training site against teammates, team officials want to be careful about throwing too much at them too soon.
“From a talent standpoint, from a stuff standpoint, those pitchers could certainly pitch at the higher levels,” Mark Scialabba, the Nationals assistant general manager for player development said during a Zoom session with reporters last week. “We want them to get off to a good start here, build the strong foundation and make sure they’re playing live competition and showing us they can handle the adversity that comes along with playing a full nine-inning game against another team and getting out there pitching 5-6 innings.”
Rutledge hasn’t been quite as successful as Cavalli through his first two starts for Wilmington. The 22-year-old has allowed five runs and six hits in 7 2/3 total innings, but more alarming are the seven walks and one hit batter he has compiled already.