The prevailing sense about how the Cincinnati Reds will approach the 1st round of the 2020 MLB Draft is that they’ll target either a college pitcher or a high school hitter. That’s something of a potential chicken/egg argument, however, considering that once you get past the first few lead-pipe lock selections at the top of this year’s draft, the bulk of the best talent consists of college pitchers and high school bats.
Considering the Reds hold the #12 overall pick in tonight’s 1st round, that means they should have several options of either type available, so you could well view it as obvious that those two genres of player are what they’re targeting. We’ve seen them linked, at times, to HS OF Austin Hendrick, but the latest mock drafts from MLB Pipeline suggest that University of Oklahoma righty Cade Cavalli could end up the pick.
Cavalli was a 29th round pick back in 2017, but opted to attend Oklahoma in lieu of signing with the Atlanta Braves. He broke out during a 2019 season with the Sooners that saw him flash elite potential both as a pitcher and at the plate, hitting .319/.393/.611 in 72 PA as a DH while also firing 60.1 IP of 3.28 ERA ball on the mound. In very small sample action in 2020 before the pandemic shut his season down for good, he was tagged for 11 ER in 23.2 IP (4.18 ERA), but that included an absurd 37/5 K/BB that’s a bit more relective of his potential on the mound.
Mainly a fastball/curve guy, his fastball can run up to 98 mph, and it was that kind of arm talent that landed him a spot on last summer’s USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. As Doug Gray noted in his recent scouting report on Cavalli at RedsMinorLeagues.com, though, Cavalli’s stuff often has often overshadowed his actual production on the mound, and he has also dealt with back issues several times between high school and his college days.
Cavalli is generally ranked between 15-25 on most draft boards, with FanGraphs currently ranking him the #17 prospect in this draft class. I’d venture a guess that he isn’t the top prospect on the Reds board by any means, but is certainly a guy who is in play at #12 depending on how the first 11 picks shake out.
The cool thing is that the wait to find out is almost over, as the draft begins tonight at 7 PM. You can follow it on either MLB Network or ESPN, or you can live stream it via MLB.com.