Latest Nats first-round picks Cavalli, House show early promise originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Nationals’ ongoing rebuild is in its early stages, with their future core of young and controllable players still coming together. President and general manager Mike Rizzo didn’t share a definitive timeline, but Juan Soto’s three years of team control give some idea of when Washington might make a push to get back to the playoffs.
“We started this thing in 2009 way below where we are today, organizationally, and it took us three years to win 98 games,” Rizzo told Deadline. exchanges last summer. “So we have a great plan in place, we have great people on the pitch, researching and developing our players, and we have great major league staff and a good stable of players who are going to impact the majors in a near future.
Crucial to the Nationals’ chances at a quick rebuild are their final two first-round picks. Right-handed pitcher Cade Cavalli and shortstop Brady House are the team’s top prospects behind receiver Keibert Ruiz, although it recently emerged that Ruiz was no longer eligible as a rookie. Cavalli and House are coming off of impressive seasons, and their respective rankings of 27th and 59th in Baseball America’s Top 100 reflect the potential they’ve already shown.
Cavalli, 23, made his pro debut in 2021 and has rocketed through the Nationals farm system. He started the year in High-A and pitched for Triple-A Rochester at the end of the season. Along the way, he racked up the most strikeouts of any underage pitcher (175) and made a statement in the MLB Futures Game.
Potential Baseball America reporter Ben Badler spoke to NBC Sports Washington and explained how Cavalli was able to make it into the top 30 of Baseball America’s rankings after being cut from the roster entirely at the start of the 2021 season. .
“He was just on the fringe, just on the periphery of our top 100 last year,” Badler said. “When it came out straight away, it was pretty electric stuff. He was just racking up strikeouts, hitting 100 mph or sitting in the mid-90s. He has four pitches that are missing bats [including] a pair of breaking balls – the slider in particular is a throw for him.
“As he moved to Double-A and Triple-A at the end of the year, we saw the control come back to him. So he needs to throw more shots but if he just has average control he could be a mid spin starter and if the control is even better than that he has the trick to end up throwing in front of a spin .
Cavalli’s development is essential for the Nationals, an organization that has been built around the starting pitch over the past decade. Josiah Gray showed promising signs during his first stint with the Nationals last season and 2019 first-round pick Jackson Rutledge has an arsenal that gives the team hope they can put on a tough campaign. 2021 behind him. However, they still have a lot of depth to build behind them.
On the batting side, House was an immediate injection of offense for the Nationals farm system after they drafted him 11th overall last summer. The 18-year-old played 16 games in the Florida Complex League and left no doubt about his potential with a .970 OPS fueled by four homers and three doubles. He cracked Baseball America’s top 100 despite only 66 professional appearances under his belt.
“Look at him, I’ve watched him play since he was 16 with USA Baseball and he’s always been that man-child,” Badler said. “A lot of times the guys who are physical at the start, the mature guys aren’t necessarily the ones you want as a team because a lot of times they just get by with advanced strength compared to their peers.
“But that’s not really the case with House. He’s also a pretty polished baseball player, just to go with that strength and physique that he has. It’s more raw power. It’s also a pretty short swing for a bigger guy, lots of bat speed, lots of power. I think the power will just continue to rise for him. But he also hits in games, he’s not just a BP hitter.
House will likely start the 2022 season at Low-A Fredericksburg, so he still has a long way to go before joining the Nationals in DC. His ability to handle the shortstop will go a long way in determining how quickly he moves through the system. Although the Nationals are letting the 6-foot-4, 215-pound infielder show he can stay in position, his physical profile is more typical of a third baseman.
“I think even though Brady House goes to third base, he has the offensive ability to be an impact player there both at the plate and on defense,” Badler said. “He has an exceptional arm for the left side of the field, has a pretty good internal clock and positional hands too. So there’s a lot to love and a reason we’re thrilled to have him in our top 100 already, even though he’s still at Complex League level right now.
It would be ambitious to expect House to hit the majors within three years, but he was a first-round pick for a reason. As the Nationals attempt to rebuild their farm system without undergoing a complete dismantling, developing their top draft picks will play a big role in determining how long that might take.