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Nationals' top prospect Cade Cavalli could miss significant time with elbow injury | Locked On Nationals

Cavalli was drafted by the team in 2020 and has big expectations with Washington as he's competing for a spot in the starting rotation. Now, that may be put on hold.

WASHINGTON D.C., DC — It’s safe to say that Washington Nationals fans were not expecting much from the team in 2023. The Nats finished in last place in the National League East Division with a 55-107 record in 2022 and they were heading into 2023 with a team filled with younger players. 

Especially in their starting rotation. 

One of those young players competing for a spot in the rotation is the Nats' top prospect right-hander Cade Cavalli who they drafted in 2020. 

On Tuesday, Cavalli was pitching in a game against the New York Mets, and on the 44th pitch of his afternoon, he shook his arm after throwing a 1-1 pitch to Brandon Nimmo and left the game with manager Davey Martinez and the Nationals trainer.

Martinez told reporters the youngster felt discomfort behind his right elbow and when that happens, alarm bells go off. Cavalli wanted to stay in the game and attempt another pitch but the manager refused and they took Cavalli off the field.

Everyone’s immediate thought goes to Tommy John surgery when you see a pitcher shake their arm after delivering a pitch and while that is certainly a possibility, the Nats are awaiting the results of Cavalli’s MRI which was scheduled for sometime on Wednesday.

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Host Ryan Clary of the Locked On Nationals podcast discussed Cavalli on his show Wednesday.

“When we (the Nationals) drafted Cavalli, everyone was insanely happy about the pick, myself included," Clary said. "Everyone should have been happy. Cade Cavalli is a great prospect.” 

He added, “We’ve seen him develop through the Minor Leagues and you see the 100 mph fastball..” 

Clary mentioned how the pick of Cavalli in the 2020 draft was a typical Mike Rizzo pick. He said the Nationals GM loves right-handers who throw good fastballs and have a couple of junk pitches. Cavalli fit that bill.

The 24-year-old was trying to pitch his way into the fifth spot in the Nationals rotation and Danny Nokes of 106.7 The Fan, who was on the Locked On Nationals Podcast with Clary, mentioned how strong Cavalli looked during Tuesday’s outing and that it was possibly the best he’s ever looked.

Both Clary and Nokes didn’t want to speculate whether or not Cavalli would need Tommy John surgery but they both talked about their own backgrounds in baseball and how when you hear the phrase, ‘discomfort behind the elbow,’ it’s almost a given that the injury is a bad one and it could mean that Cavalli could miss a significant amount of time if he actually needs the surgery or even if he doesn’t.

Cavalli was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2020 and he quickly made his way through the Nationals’ system and made his Major League debut in August of last year. He developed shoulder inflammation which sent him to the injured list and ended his season. Cavalli, Mackenzie Gore, and Josiah Gray were all looking for spots in the Nationals rotation with veterans Patrick Corbin and Trevor Williams.

The Nationals are in the midst of a rebuild but now, Cavalli’s 2023 is at risk of being derailed along with his development as a top pitching prospect which is bad news for the team and their fans.

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