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Nationals’ 2020 Draft Selections

Photo By Michael Napoleon. 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Round 1, Pick 22: Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma

The former 1st baseman turned pitcher decided to put all his eggs in one basket when he became a full time starter for the Sooners his sophomore year. His transition to the mound turned out to be beneficial not only to him but also to the Oklahoma program as a whole. In 101 total innings of work at Oklahoma he posted a 4.09 ERA with a 3.28 ERA in his 12 starts during that sophomore season. Cavalli is a physical presence on the mound at 6’4” 226 pounds and has the tools to improve upon an already competent delivery. His fastball velocity is not in question as he throws in the mid 90s consistently. His curveball currently has a grade 65 as well as a slider and changeup that he can build upon. There are slight injury history concerns with his back in high school and a stress fracture in his arm last year but the Nationals organization is confident in Cade’s durability. More time on the mound will be the most important factor in developing his status as a big league starter.

Round 2, Pick 55: Cole Henry, RHP, LSU

Cole Henry was robbed of a chance to fully showcase his development and continued proficiency in 2020. In his brief sophomore stint, the young righty had a 1.89 ERA in 4 starts. The year prior, as a freshman, he had 11 starts in a rigid SEC and solidified himself as the Tiger’s weekend starter. In that freshman year he posted a 3.39 ERA while going 4-2 and accounting for 72 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings pitched. This production is respectable at most college levels. As a freshman in the SEC it is incredible. Slight arm soreness in 2019 led to Henry shortening up his delivery to account for his arm length. He no longer seems to experience that nagging soreness and looked very comfortable on the mound this year. At 20 years old and with less than a full year of starting experience under his belt Cole Henry may have the highest ceiling among the Nationals draft picks. His physical tools (6’4” 211 pounds) and sustained success in arguably America’s best college baseball conference shows that Cole Henry is one for the not so distant future.

Round 2s, Pick 71: Sammy Infante, SS, Monsignor Edward Pace HS (FL)

The conclusion of the Anthony Rendon saga in DC culminated in a compensatory pick selecting the high school senior from Florida. There’s a lot to like about this selection: Infante’s ceiling, ability to play multiple positions in the infield, and being an alum of the same high school to produce big leaguers Gio Gonzalez and Alex Fernandez. The Nationals love infield utility players and Infante has shown versatility all over the field in a limited sample size. In fact, he is often described as being a jack-of-all-trades, but given his youth is also a master of none. This is soon to change, as he is eager to enter the professional ranks, forgoing his college career in declining his offer to play for Miami University (FL). His ability at the plate, much like his fielding, is fairly well rounded with the only concern being a more consistent contact. This is a high upside steal for the Nationals. With the abrupt ending of the season Infante lost the opportunity to showcase his talents to a greater extent so that other organizations could take notice. The Nationals took advantage of this in securing his services before other teams could get more promising film on the young shortstop.

Round 3, Pick 94: Holden Powell, RHP, UCLA

Saying Powell had a solid collegiate career would be an understatement. Second all time in UCLA history with 26 career saves and a two time All-American, Powell enjoyed much success as a Bruin. An aggressive style made him a force in the Pac-12 when finishing games. In the brief 2020 campaign Powell held a 0.00 ERA in 8 appearances. Blanking teams with 20 strikeouts in 9 innings pitched. Listed as the 134th overall prospect according to MLB.com, he also rates as one of the best relievers in the 2020 class. Powell causes the most damage with his mid to upper 90s fastball that should have no problem translating to minor league ball. Up until this point he hasn’t had to master a secondary pitch. If he can brush up on an out-pitch and changeup he should expedite his ascension to the majors as a future Nationals closer.

Round 4, Pick 123: Brady Lindsly, C, Oklahoma

The second Sooner taken in this draft, Lindsly played 4 years with Oklahoma and started 47 games as catcher. In 2019 he hit for .291 and 34 RBIs as an ancillary offensive option in the Oklahoma lineup. In 2020 he carried on with a .271 average and a .850 OPS. By all accounts Lindsly is an offensive minded catcher with valuable experience in a competitive Big 12 conference. That being said, he is not included on the Top 200 prospects list according to MLB Pipeline and rates as average defensively. While he needs to improve as a receiver, his left-handed swing could use additional polish as well. It will be interesting to see him translate to minor league baseball where he can hopefully round out as an all-around catcher. Currently Lindsly projects as organizational depth at a position the Nationals have selected 34 of since 2010.

Round 5, Pick 153: Mitchell Parker, LHP, San Jacinto College (TX)

At 20 years old Parker has already been drafted twice (Cubs in 2018 and Rays in 2019). Currently he is committed to play at the University of Kentucky this upcoming season where he hopes to translate a successful 2019 (1.19 ERA, 64 strikeouts in 30 1/3 IP) to a more demanding SEC. Parker is a hard thrower touching mid to upper 90s on his fastball. With the fastball, command is the primary issue. Cleaning up his delivery may see a slight decrease to that velocity but time will tell once he as more reps with Kentucky. While the fastball develops he can rely on an above average curveball to continue his exemplary strikeout ratio.

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