Cavalli, Nats' top pitching prospect, to make MLB debut Fri.

August 24th, 2022

SEATTLE -- The Nationals’ rotation of the future could be coming together toward the end of the 2022 season, and starting Friday, Cade Cavalli will be a big part of it.

Washington manager Dave Martinez announced on Wednesday morning that Cavalli, the team’s No. 4 prospect (and MLB’s No. 58 overall prospect) according to MLB Pipeline, will be called up from Triple-A Rochester to start Friday’s game at home vs. the Reds. The 24-year-old right-hander has gone 6-4 with a 3.71 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 97 innings over 20 starts for Rochester this year.

“We're excited,” Martinez said of Cavalli. “He's checked a lot of boxes. And with that being said, like I say with all the young guys, part of the process is patience, so we're going to get him up here and get him going and see how he does. But he's done well in Rochester, really well, as the numbers will indicate.

“We'll get him up here and he'll get an opportunity to start here for us for the last five, six weeks of the season.”

Martinez said promising young starter Josiah Gray will skip a turn or two in the rotation to refresh and limit innings, with plans for Gray to return and finish the season strong.

He also said young left-hander MacKenzie Gore, one of the key return pieces in the Juan Soto trade with the Padres, was scheduled to throw a bullpen session of 20-25 pitches off the mound in T-Mobile Park on Wednesday morning. Gore is making his way back from left elbow inflammation that has sidelined him on the 15-day injured list since July 26 -- a week before the blockbuster Deadline deal that sent him to Washington.

Martinez said he’s very much looking forward to seeing the Nats finish off the year with Cavalli, Gray and Gore entrenched in their five-man rotation.

The Nationals have been looking forward to Cavalli’s MLB debut since they took him out of the University of Oklahoma with the 22nd overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. Cavalli has risen steadily through the ranks, leading the Minor Leagues with 175 strikeouts in 123 1/3 innings while climbing three levels in 2021 and developing further this season.

Cavalli, whose fastball sits in the 96-97 mph range and can touch triple digits, also features a curveball and a slider, and he has improved tremendously with his changeup, according to Martinez. The skipper said the club needed to see better command with Cavalli’s secondary pitches to give him the callup to The Show, and those stipulations have been satisfied.

“We talked a lot about him developing his changeup,” Martinez said. “He's done it. He's been throwing them 12, 15, 18 times a game now. He feels comfortable throwing them. So that was definitely a plus.”

Martinez said the strategy now is for Cavalli to take the ball every five or six days and not feel pressure to carry the weight of the franchise on his right arm.

“He's worked really hard, but he’s fairly young,” Martinez said. “So it's going to be kind of a little bit of a process. We want him to come up here and succeed, but we’ve just got to take some time with him, and he's got to have to learn. He’s still learning a lot of different things.

“But the stuff definitely plays. It really does. So we'll get an opportunity to get him up here and put no pressure on him. Just let him go out there and compete.”