Washington Nationals: Expectations for 2020 draft class

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 07: Manager Dave Martinez #4 of the Washington Nationals talks with General Manager Mike Rizzo before the game against the Kansas City Royals at Nationals Park on July 7, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 07: Manager Dave Martinez #4 of the Washington Nationals talks with General Manager Mike Rizzo before the game against the Kansas City Royals at Nationals Park on July 7, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /

Major League Baseball held its annual amateur draft on June 10-11, 2020, but it looked different than in years past. This year’s draft, along with it taking place outside of the regular season, took place virtually with many organization leaders showing off their at-home setups.

Leading the charge for the defending World Series Champion Washington Nationals was General Manager Mike Rizzo, with the Commissioner’s Trophy by his side. Rizzo’s walked away having drafted six players – five from the collegiate level and one from high school – as the Nationals continue to rebuild their depleted farm system.

Being drafted is just the first step of the process for each draftee; with training and moving through the minor’s being the next objective.  So, what can we expect out of the newest Nationals?

Round 1 (22nd Pick Overall)

Cade Cavalli, RHP – Oklahoma University

The 6’4” hurler joins the organization after three seasons of college ball with the Sooners, where he not only pitched but also played in the infield. Cade Cavalli was drafted as a pitcher, but his abilities at the dish are a plus for the right-hander. In 27 appearances (18 starts), he fanned 114 and accumulated a 4.09 ERA. However, while at Oklahoma he struggled with consistency. This was seen as he walked 53 and threw 13 wild pitches in just over 100 innings pitched. At the plate, Cavalli batted .234, with ten home runs, and 45 RBIs in 265 at-bats.

Cavalli’s arsenal consists of a high-90s fastball, a curveball, and a slider. He’ll likely need to add a changeup to his pitch-mix if he wants to pitch in the majors.

MLB Comparison: Joe Ross

Expectation: 3rd or 4th Starter

Arrival: 2024

Round 2 (55th Pick Overall)

Cole Henry, RHP – Louisiana State University

Cole Henry was a dominant starting pitcher at LSU in each of his two seasons donning the purple and gold. It didn’t take long for him to cement himself as the top of the rotation starter for the Tigers, a designation he was given during his freshman season. His dominance continued into the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, where he started four games and accumulated a 1.89 ERA and 23 strikeouts while walking just six. In his collegiate career, he posted a 1.15 WHIP.

Like Cavalli, Henry will need to develop a fourth pitch if he’s going to continue his dominance professionally. He currently throws a mid-90s fastball, a 12-to-6 curveball, and a changeup.

MLB Comparison: Stephen Strasburg

Expectation: 1st or 2nd Starter

Arrival: 2024

Comp B (71st Pick Overall)

Samuel Infante, SS – Monsignor Edward Pace (HS)

After losing Anthony Rendon in free agency, the Nationals were awarded a compensation pick (Comp B) in return. With this pick, the Nationals turned their eyes to a high school kid from Florida, 18-year old middle infielder Samuel Infante. In his senior season, albeit shorter than usual, Infante amassed four doubles and a homer while batting .481.

His quickness, versatility to play multiple infield positions, and surprising pop in his bat, could allow him to speed through the Nationals farm system. It’s possible that he’ll take over at second base for an aging veteran or play his natural position if Trea Turner leaves in Free Agency following the 2022 season.

MLB Comparison: Didi Gregorius

Expectation: Starter at 2B, SS or 3B

Arrival: 2023

Round 3 (94th Pick Overall)

Holden Powell, RHP – University of California, Los Angeles

In the third round, the Nationals picked up one of the top bullpen arms in the draft, Holden Powell. With the Bruins, Powell appeared in 77 games, notching 26 saves with a 2.26 ERA and 107 strikeouts. Most impressive was that he faced 370 batters and held them to an average of just .167.

Powell’s slider ranks up there with the likes of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, and he hasn’t even pitched professionally yet. He also throws a mid-90s fastball that routinely sets up his slider for the punch out.

MLB Comparison: Amir Garrett

Expectation: All-Start Closer

Arrival: 2024

Round 4 (123rd Pick Overall)

Brady Lindsly, C – Oklahoma University

With their fifth pick in the draft, the Nationals picked up Cavalli’s battery mate, Brady Lindsly. Lindsly batted .275 across four seasons with the Sooners, with the final three as the team’s primary backstop. He tallied 79 RBI and 42 extra-base hits (ten home runs) to go along with 60 walks and a .360 OBP.

Defensively, Lindsly was a leader. He committed just nine errors across nearly 150 games played for a fielding percentage of .991.

MLB Comparison: Robinson Chirinos

Expectation: Platoon Role-Primary

Arrival: 2024

Round 5 (153rd Pick Overall)

Mitchell Parker, LHP – San Jacinto Junior College

A year after taking Jackson Rutledge out of San Jacinto JC in the first round, Washinton used its fifth-round pick on another San Jan pitcher, this time it was Mitchell Parker. In six starts before the season was canceled, Parker fanned 64 while walking 18 in 30 1/3 innings pitched. In 2019, he struck out 111 batters and posted a 1.54 ERA.

The southpaw has been drafted twice before. The Chicago Cubs and Tampa Bay Rays each selected him in the 28th round of the 2018 draft and in the 27th round of the 2019 draft respectively. Both times, Mitchell trusted his gut and chose to continue his development and improve his draft stock at the collegiate level. He added a two-seam fastball to his arsenal in 2020, giving him five pitches to work with.

MLB Comparison: Sean Newcomb

Expectation: 3rd or 4th starter

Arrival: 2023