Nats’ prospects Cade Cavalli and Jackson Rutledge impress in debut originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Washington Nationals’ minor-league system didn't get much love from the prospect gurus this offseason, but their best young pitching prospects had nice debuts on Thursday.
In an 8-4 spring training loss to the New York Mets on Thursday in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Washington’s last two first-round picks both showed well.
Cade Cavalli, the right hander out of the University of Oklahoma, pitched a scoreless inning with zero hits or earned runs, one walk and two strikeouts. The 2020 No. 22 overall pick relied on his trademark change-up, which proved steady against the Mets’ rotation.
To compliment Cavalli’s stellar outing, Washington’s 2019 first-round pick, Jackson Rutledge, had a similarly impressive day: one inning, one hit conceded, zero runs and two strikeouts. The 21-year-old right-hander signed a $3.45 million deal with Washington in June of 2020.
Ryan Zimmerman led the way for Washington on the offensive side of the ball, with three RBIs (including one opposite-field homer) in three at bats in the Nats’s loss.
Cavalli and Rutledge could bolster an already solid-looking pitching rotation for the Nats at some point - even of that's not in 2021. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin again lead Washington coupled with a new addition in veteran Jon Lester, who is currently out with a thyroid issue.
Pitching prospects aren’t the only young players who have made the Curly W look good in spring training. Infield prospect Drew Mendoza made headlines earlier this week with a filthy barehanded grab off the first base bag against St. Louis.
The Nationals’ roster has plenty of veterans with a proven track record of excellence in the majors. Still, young guns like Cavalli and Rutledge are the future and could give the Nats some stability on the mound for years to come.