Tale of the Tape
|Age at Draft||21|
|High School||University of Oklahoma|
|Baseball America Rank||No. 22|
Cade Cavalli is about the most athletic pitcher in the 2020 draft class. Still listed on Oklahoma’s baseball roster as a right-handed pitcher and infielder, Cavalli was a two-way player in each of his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Mostly as a designated hitter in 2019, Cavalli slashed .319/.393/.611 across 72 at-bats while tossing up a sub-3.30 ERA on the mound. In 2020, the right-hander dropped his bat to focus on pitching full-time, a move that seemed to be paying off.
While an ERA north of four didn’t help his cause, Cavalli struck out 37 batters in just 23.1 innings pitched. In previous seasons, Cavalli struggled with his command, walking 35 batters in 60.1 frames a season prior. That number fell to just five in the aforementioned 23 innings this year.
In an interview with Talkin’ Ball Interviews, Cavalli credited his improved command on decreasing his effort level on the mound to 70-80%. Previously up to 101 MPH with his 70-grade fastball, Cavalli sat 94-97 MPH in 2020 but displayed the ability to dot the offering anywhere he wanted it to go.
Perhaps his best pitch, Cavalli’s slider is described by Baseball America as “devastating” and an “out-pitch” that can get swings and misses from both right- and left-handed batters.
Watch any video on Cavalli and his smooth, textbook delivery is one of the first things you will notice. While that would generally classify as a strength, many scouts have noted little to no deception in Cavalli’s windup, allowing hitters to pick up his fastball almost immediately.
Coming from right over the top, Cavalli’s arm action leaves the baseball in the hitter’s view far too long, giving them a split second longer to recognize spin and possible pitch location.
For that reason, some scouts have Cavalli’s fastball playing down from its assigned 70-grade as the right-hander allowed 96 hits across 101.1 innings at the collegiate level.
Cavalli has also dealt with his fair share of injuries. As a senior in high school, he missed time with a back injury and then sat out a portion of the 2019 season with a stress reaction in his arm.
The Chicago Cubs have just three pitchers in their top-30 prospect list that have progressed past Double-A in Adbert Alzolay, Tyson Miller and James Norwood. While the Northsiders possess a strong amount of pitching depth in the Advanced-A levels and below, they need a quick mover through their system to off-set expiring contracts at the major league level with homegrown, cost-controlled pitching.
Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood will be free agents after the 2020 season concludes. Workhorse veteran Jon Lester will also likely become a free agent as his vesting option for the 2021 campaign calls for 200 innings pitched in 2020 or 400 innings pitched between ’19 and ’20.
The Cubs have had difficulty hanging onto their top pitching prospects in the past. Dispatched through trades for big league ready talent, names like Dylan Cease are filling important roles on other teams.
In a draft stocked with collegiate pitching and under the direction of newly minted scouting director Dan Kantrovitz, the Cubs seemed poised to invest heavily in pitching in the shortened five round draft.
At No. 16, Chicago may miss out on Cavalli who is slowly but surely ascending up draft boards, but a slew of collegiate arms exists for the Cubs to find their man.
Cavalli, much like the rest of the nation’s amateur baseball players, will not get the chance to showcase his talents for scouts for an additional year as the COVID-19 virus shutdown all sports leagues and conferences. For the right-hander, that is bad news because he seemed to finally be figuring out his command issues.
As an Oklahoma product and native, Cavalli shares a relationship with the Cubs’ 2018 sixth round draft selection Kohl Franklin. Franklin, who was committed to Oklahoma before the Cubs took him out of Broken Arrow High School, now calls himself a neighbor of Cavalli’s.
The above video shows Cavalli and Franklin working out and throwing a bullpen together. Without the Cubs drafting Franklin in 2018, the two would have likely been teammates at Oklahoma and in the same draft class as collegiate arms.
Nevertheless, Franklin’s relationship with Cavalli could play a role in which direction the Cubs go in the this year’s draft as they wade through the abundance of talent available in the first round.
Be sure to follow us online and across social media at the handle @ChicagoDugout for all of our comprehensive 2020 MLB Draft coverage both live, and upcoming!