Thursday Prospect Notes: 5/12/22

© Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

These are notes on prospects from Tess Taruskin. You can read previous installments of our prospect notes here.

Cade Cavalli, RHP, Washington Nationals
Level & Affiliate: Triple-A Rochester Age: 23 Overall Rank: 78 FV: 50
5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 6 K, BB, HBP

Cavalli was dominant over his first few frames on Wednesday, dealing first-pitch strikes to most of his opposing batters and sending them down in order until a weak, bloop single in the fourth. His command faltered later in the game, and he allowed the opposing lineup to string together a few hits, then issued a couple of free passes (one walk, one HBP) and was pulled before he could get himself out of the sixth inning.

You might think that he plowed his way through the order the first couple of times by way of a whirlwind of whiffs – he did, after all, lead the minors in strikeouts in 2021. But many of those Ks were accrued in the early part of last season, as Cavalli began his rapid ascent through the Nationals system. He had a whopping 44.9% strikeout rate in his seven High-A games, then made 11 Double-A starts and fanned 32.9% of those opponents. But when he reached Triple-A for a six-start stint to close out the season, his strikeout rate dipped significantly, with the more advanced batters keying in on heaters that would’ve blown by bats at the lower levels.

Wednesday was Cavalli’s sixth Triple-A start of the 2022 season, and his numbers are quite similar to the ones he put up at the end of last year, with a strikeout rate around 20% and a walk rate around 10%. He has increased his use of his secondary pitches, which in part accounts for the decrease in strikeouts, but which has also brought down his BABIP. He’s shown the ability to locate his breaking ball and off-speed stuff, though not yet to a convincing level of reliability. While he struck out Jeter Downs twice in the first four innings last night, he also served up a mid-80s slider that stayed flat and hovered over the middle of the plate, which Downs launched out of the park, but foul. Cavalli won’t get away with those kinds of mistakes as he continues to progress.

The narrative around Cavalli has remained roughly the same since he was drafted in 2020: an undeniably intimidating arm attached to a violent delivery and a checkered injury record. Of course, when you’re hitting the high-90s with your fastball as consistently as Cavalli does, there being some violence in your delivery is not altogether unexpected, but it’s particularly concerning when paired with the injuries that plagued his college career, though those maladies have yet to re-emerge such that they’ve had an impact on his professional development.

Zach DeLoach, OF, Seattle Mariners
Level & Affiliate: Double-A Arkansas Age: 22 Team Rank: TBD FV: 40
2-for-4, 2 BB

DeLoach has not gotten off to a great start in 2022, with an 89 wRC+ and a strikeout rate three times that of his walk rate. In his professional career, he has yet to replicate the power he showed in his explosive, though truncated, pre-draft 2020 season at Texas A&M. His two hits on Wednesday were seeing-eye grounders just out of the reach of the middle infielders. He did walk twice, but one of those was intentional, and the other was thanks to a couple of generous calls by the umpire on pitches that may have actually nicked the bottom of the zone. While it’s good that DeLoach isn’t overly eager to flail at fringy offerings, his ability to further fine tune his strike recognition on the peripheries of the zone will be an important area of focus as he continues his way toward the big leagues. Interestingly, his next stop in that direction would be at Triple-A Tacoma, where he’ll have to contend with the Automated Balls and Strikes system, providing a more rigid zone for players like DeLoach to adjust to, while perhaps eliminating borderline walks like the one issued last night (of course, this could also impact his strikeout rate). As a corner outfielder, there’s added pressure for him to tap into that power and tamp down his ballooning K-rate so he can remain a realistic platoon candidate.

Maikel Garcia, SS, Kansas City Royals
Level & Affiliate: Double-A NW Arkansas Age: 22 Team Rank: TBD FV: 40
2-for-5, SB

Instead of adding power to his profile, Garcia has continued to develop his feel for contact, opting for smartly-placed balls as opposed to demolished ones. That was the case in his late-game performance on Wednesday, when he poked an opposite-field, two-run single into right in the bottom of the ninth as his Northwest Arkansas Naturals came up just short of sending the game into extras. Garcia has further bolstered his standing with patience at the plate (to the tune of a mid-teens walk rate), along with prowess on the basepaths; at Double-A this year, Garcia has already surpassed the number of steals he racked up in his time at High-A last season, and in about half the number of games. Since his return to the states after the lost 2020 season, Garcia has been better than league average at every rung during his ascent up the ladder of the Royals’ system. The contact-focused approach combines well enough with his defensive instincts to make for a viable utility profile, even without the added power.

Luis Campusano, C, San Diego Padres
Level & Affiliate: Triple-A El Paso Age: 23 Overall Rank: 27 FV: 55
2-for-5, 2 2B, 3 K

Both of Campusano’s doubles on Wednesday were towering shots with mid-90s exit velos that short-hopped the wall, with one going into the right field corner and the other to the left-center field alley. It was his second two-double game of the young 2022 season, and while it was paired with three Ks, Campusano’s strikeouts have come down so far this season. In the eighth, he sailed a haphazard throw-down into center field, but when another runner tested him later in the inning, he fired a strike directly into C.J. Abrams‘ glove at shortstop. Overall, he looked comfortable behind the plate.

Tess is a contributor at FanGraphs. When she's not watching college or professional baseball, she works as a sports video editor, creating highlight reels for high school athletes. She can be found on Twitter at @tesstass.

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