Meet Cade Cavalli: 2020 MLB Draft Prospect
Though almost all sporting events have been canceled, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced last week that the 2020 MLB Draft will take place virtually on Wednesday, June 10th.
One of the more notable names in this year’s MLB Draft is Cade Cavalli. He was named the Big-12 Conference pre-season pitcher of the year this spring. With a fastball that has hit triple-digits, he is projected to land mid-way through the first round. Recent reports and mock drafts have Cavalli as the Philadelphia Phillies pick.
Cavalli is not taking off-days
Unlike most of us, whose days consist of Netflix, hobbies and/or work, Cavalli’s days have largely been spent in conversation with scouts, general managers and other front office officials.
“We’re doing Zoom calls, which I enjoy because you get to do it face to face,” Cavalli told me in an interview via Zoom. “It’s been pretty much every ball-club…They’re getting a chance to know me better.”
Teams have also done screen-shares, and have played videos of Cavalli pitching, asking questions about mechanics among other things.
The 6’4″ right-handed pitcher has played the past three seasons for the Oklahoma University (OU) Sooners, where he has excelled both on the mound and in the batter’s box. His freshman year, he focused on hitting. During his sophomore campaign, he typically pitched in relief on Fridays, and played first-base on all other days. By 2020 he became a full-time pitcher. In fact, he was drafted as a hitter out of high school by the Braves, but turned it down to play collegiately.
During the 2019 season, the Bixby, OK native dominated. Cavalli went 5-3 with a 3.28 ERA, and 59 strikeouts in 60 ⅓ innings on the mound. At the plate, he hit .319 with five doubles, two triples, four home runs, and 17 RBIs. Though his hitting statistics were exceptional, he decided to stick with pitching. After all, he was given a gift of a fastball that could travel 100 MPH.
Making the change up
As scouts and reporters began to take notice of his talents on the mound and attend his games, Cavalli struggled with the command of his fastball. MLB Pipeline wrote “he doesn’t have much [of a] track record of staying healthy or throwing strikes. His lack of command and deception also means that his premium stuff gets hit harder than it should.”
Reporter Kendall Rogers also took note, tweeting out “Cade Cavalli struggled with command,” after watching him pitch in the spring of 2019.
This criticism prompted Cavalli to make a major change in his form. Instead of emphasizing his delivery and overthrowing the ball, which is where many pitchers lose control, he changed his mechanics to ease up. He began pitching effortlessly and lightly, which made a huge difference. Instead of throwing his normal 97-100 MPH fastballs, he slowed it down to 94-97 MPH, which improved the pitch dramatically. “My command shot through the roof,” he explained. “I could put the fastball where I wanted.”
The COVID-19 Impact
As a junior, he pitched just four games before the 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID-19. He turned his attention to the MLB draft, but the thoughts of what could have been haunt him. The cancellation of the season took away many opportunities. Gone was Cavalli’s chance to show scouts his improvement, and pitch in the historic first ever game at brand new Globe Life Park, home of the Texas Rangers. Especially disappointing was the loss of his chance to help the Sooners get to the College World Series for the first time since 2010.
“I think this year was the year…our staff was incredible,” Cavalli said. “I think it was the best in the country…everyone was just getting better each game it felt like…It stinks that the season ended like that…[but] it’s bittersweet because I’ve worked my whole life to be able to play professional baseball and I’m ready to get that journey going.”
Cavalli has made the most of his time since the season ended. He has obtained a mound and is working out with friends, including Chicago Cubs prospect Kohl Franklin, who lives down the street. He has also used the eldest Cavalli brother, Tristan, as a catcher for bullpens.
In the most recent mock drafts, Cavalli went #15 to the Phillies. He believes he will go close to that in the draft come June 10th. However, there’s always the potential situation of him falling. In reference to such a possibility, Cavalli added, “They gave us a year of eligibility back in college so if something goes haywire in the draft I’ve always got that. But I’m ready to get my pro career started.”
Cavalli has confidence in his ability to compete at the professional level, but realizes he has a lot of room to develop. He acknowledged that he is only two years into becoming a true pitcher, since he primarily was a hitter until 2018. “[Velocity is] just going to keep going up as I strengthen my body, learn how to use it, learn how to use the mound…in the future I see myself sitting 97 to 100,“ he concluded.
“My end goal is not even the major leagues. I feel like I’m going to be a Hall of Famer.”
The MLB Draft will take place at 6 PM on Wednesday, June 10.
Link to full video of my interview with Cade: https://youtu.be/upEeyaGoTXQ
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