Cade Cavalli: Nationals 2021 Minor League Player Of The Year
In Cade Cavalli’s first year of professional baseball, he pitched at three levels, hit triple digits with his fastball at the Futures Game and led the minor leagues with 175 strikeouts.
Yet, the accomplishment the 2020 first-rounder out of Oklahoma was most proud of was simply surviving the grind of making 24 starts.
“Thankfully, I’ve been able to post some starts and stay healthy this season,” Cavalli said. “That was my main goal. I put in the work to keep my body healthy, and I let the results be the results.”
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound righthander started seven games at High-A Wilmington, 11 at Double-A Harrisburg and six at Triple-A Rochester. Overall, he went 7-9, 3.36 in 123.1 innings.
Cavalli maintained his velocity deep into games and threw 100 or more pitches three times. He also showed a plus downer curveball, a wipeout slider and a changeup with late, hard sink. The 23-year-old was a two-way player in college and is still polishing each of his pitches, especially the changeup.
“I tell people all the time when I was a hitter, I hated hitting changeups because they look like fastballs and they’re not,” Cavalli said. “It’s difficult if you don’t see it out of the hand very well, so being able to throw that pitch off a fastball, I think it helps a lot.”
Though Cavalli ran up a 7.30 ERA in 24.2 innings in Triple-A, the organization is thrilled with his development thus far. In 2020, he was at the team’s alternate training site, which helped lay the groundwork for his ascension this year.
“Cade’s first full season was impressive in a number of ways,” Nationals farm director Mark Scialabba said. “He obviously dominated the competition at (High-A) with his electric stuff, utilizing all four above-average pitches to put away hitters, but also successfully made some adjustments as he made his way to Double-A."
After his promotion to Rochester, Cavalli summed up his 2021 by saying, “I’ve been having success this year, and at times I’ve been having a lot of failure. That’s a baseball season. I’ve got to still learn from each of them.”
— Nationals assistant general manager Sam Mondry-Cohen, who ran the franchise’s research and development department, won’t return next season but plans to pursue a new challenge in a different organization.
“My time with the Nationals has been a dream come true,” he told the The Washington Post.
— Bob Boone, vice president and senior advisor to general manager Mike Rizzo, resigned instead of complying with the team’s Covid-19 vaccination mandate for non-playing employees. Meanwhile, Brad Holman (minor league pitching coordinator) and Larry Pardo (a pitching coach in the Florida Complex League) have reportedly filed religious discrimination complaints after they say their contracts were terminated over them not getting the vaccine.