The Texas Rangers currently have five picks in the 2020 MLB Draft, and while it is possible they could trade for a competitive balance pick from another team, it appears most likely they will have just their regular selections in each round. Their first pick is at #14 overall, and then they pick at #50, #87, #117, and #147.
In the run up to the draft, we will be highlight some players who are potential Ranger draft picks. Last year no one aside from Josh Jung that we wrote about was actually picked by the Rangers, as we mostly looked at prep players for their later picks, and they went college-heavy early in the draft for the first time in years. This year, the uncertainty over whether they will emphasize college players again or go back to prep players would make it hard to narrow down the list of potential prospects even in a normal year — the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic having shut down amateur play creates even more uncertainty about potential picks.
On the plus side, the lack of games and actual new scouting going on means that there’s going to be a lot less updated information, so a write-up I do now will likely still be more or less valid a month from now.
In any case, in the coming days, we will be doing write-ups of potential Texas Ranger draft picks. Today we take a look at University of Oklahoma pitcher Cade Cavalli.
Cade Cavalli is a 6’4”, 226. lb righthanded pitcher at the University of Oklahoma. Cavalli was a two-way player for Bixby High School in Bixby, Oklahoma, and was ranked #295 on the Baseball America top 500 draft rankings for the 2017 draft — lower than he might otherwise have been due to back issues that kept him from pitching his senior year. Cavalli ended up being selected in the 29th round by the Atlanta Braves, and he passed on signing with them to go to OU.
Cavalli looks like he came out of central casting — he’s big, study, and built like a pitcher, with a clean, easy delivery. Cavalli throws in the low- to mid-90s, with a swing-and-miss slider as well as an average curve and change. He also gives up harder contact than a pitcher with his stuff would be expected to give up, and has struggled with control and command.
Cavalli didn’t start pitching until his sophomore year in high school, didn’t pitch his senior year in high school due to a back issue, didn’t pitch much as a freshman when he played most of the season in the field, and then missed time as a sophomore due to a stress reaction in his arm. He had 4 starts for OU this spring, and was generating positive reviews, when the season was shut down, leaving him with 101.1 IP for his NCAA career, with a 4.09 ERA and 114 Ks against 53 walks, with an ugly 1.470 WHIP.
So Cavalli has a limited track record and a history of injury issues, as well as questions about his control and why his results don’t match his stuff. He also has the type of stuff that can make him a top of the rotation type starter if he puts it all together, though.
Baseball America has Cavalli at #22 on their pre-draft top 500, raving about his stuff but recoiling over the question marks. MLB Pipeline puts Cavalli at #22 on their board, noting his “frontline starter” upside and the big question marks on his track record and health. Fangraphs slots has Cavalli at #17 on their board and drops an “electric” description on him. At ESPN, Kiley McDaniel has Cavalli at #24 on his updated board. Keith Law’s latest top 100 board has Cavalli at #13.
Keith Law has Cavalli going to the Philadelphia Phillies at #15 in his latest mock draft. Jonathan Mayo’s mock draft has Cavalli going to the San Francisco Giants at #13. Kiley McDaniel’s mock draft puts Cavalli to the St. Louis Cardinals at #21. The most recent Baseball America mock draft has Cavalli going to the Giants at #13, as does the latest version of the Jim Callis mock draft.
The appeal of Cavalli is clear — he’s big, has a pitcher’s build, has a clean delivery, throws hard, has a plus secondary, has a couple of other decent pitches, and profiles as a potential frontline starter. He also has command and injury issues that are significant red flags.
One potential positive with Cavalli is that, given his late start to pitching and the issues that have kept him off the mound, he does not have much mileage on his arm. That could, perhaps, result in him being viewed as less of an injury risk (at least, from the wear-and-tear standpoint), and also suggests that he’s got more room for improvement than your average 21 year old pitcher just from a repetition standpoint.
There’s a good chance Cavalli is off the board when the Rangers pick, but if he is there, he presents an interesting option — a pitcher who would immediately have the most upside in the Rangers system, if he were taken, but one that needs a fair amount of work. Cavalli is a guy who could flame out and have people talk about how dumb it was to burn a premium pick on someone with his obvious red flags. Or he could become a multi-inning power reliever.
Or he could blossom and reach his potential, and have everyone wondering how a guy with his stuff dropped as far as he did in the draft.