MLB Draft: OU pitcher Cade Cavalli selected in first round by Washington Nationals
OU junior pitcher Cade Cavalli was selected with the No. 22 overall pick Wednesday in the first round of the MLB Draft by Washington Nationals.
Cavalli is the first Sooner to be taken in the first round since Kyler Murray was selected with the No. 9 pick by the Oakland Athletics in 2018.
“This has been a goal since he came to OU,” Sooners coach Skip Johnson said. “We’ve done things to help him get drafted in the first round. We’ve done our job as coaches, we’ve taught him life lessons and he’s put in the work.”
Cavalli, a Bixby product, was the Sooners’ Friday night starter in 2020 during a shortened season. Cavalli finished the season with 37 strikeouts and a 4.18 ERA.
Oklahoma finished the season 14-4, with notable wins against Arkansas, Dallas Baptist and LSU.
“I’ve been excited for the draft and I’ve been excited for something to happen in Major League Baseball because I think baseball really has taken a hit,” Johnson said. “Now some of these guys are getting the opportunity to have their dreams come true.”
In his first two years as a Sooner, Cavalli was a two-way player before switching over to the mound full-time as a junior. He finished his career at the plate with a .234 average, 62 hits, 10 home runs and 45 RBIs.
“What’s so neat about Cade is that he went from being an everyday player to being a pitcher,” Johnson said. “He’s really compulsive and understands what it takes for him and what he wants to do for the rest of his life. He’s adapted to it really well and it’s been fun to watch.”
The MLB currently has no plan for a return to play amid the coronavirus pandemic. Other major sports leagues, including the NBA, MLS and NHL, are all slated to return in July, but MLB owners and players are still at the bargaining table hashing out financials.
During the pandemic, Johnson said Cavalli has been meeting with teams via Zoom and working out on his own. While the pre-draft process has been unconventional, Johnson expects Cavalli to be ready to go.
“When the baseball starts back up, it’ll just be second nature to him,” Johnson said. “He’ll continue to work on the process of getting better. Cade’s always been that way and always will be that way. He understands that he has to put his day of work in.”