With the 22nd pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, the Nationals have selected right-handed pitcher Cade Cavalli out of Oklahoma.
Cavalli, who was actually more effective as a hitter than a pitcher in college, is a project and will require patience as he moves up the minor-league ladder. The 6-foot-4, 226-pound righty has a weird delivery that’s almost exaggeratedly overhand and may need to be rebuilt at the professional level. Though Cavalli didn’t have a great college career on the mound — a 4.35 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP with 114 strikeouts and 53 walks over 101 innings — he has elite size and wildly intriguing stuff, as he throws a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and an above-average curveball and slider. That will likely be enough to earn him a mid-to-late first-round selection.
Cavalli’s health history provides some reason for concern — he dealt with a back injury in high school and suffered a stress reaction in his pitching arm last spring. But he has a ton of upside, and for a team confident in its ability to develop pitchers at the minor-league level, Cavalli is essentially a ball of clay waiting to be shaped into a frontline starter.