2020 MLB Draft

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Nationals agree to terms with first-round pick Cade Cavalli

Nationals agree to terms with first-round pick Cade Cavalli

The Nationals have signed first-round pick Cade Cavalli, the team announced on Friday.

Cavalli, a right-handed pitcher out of Oklahoma, was the No. 22 overall selection in the 2020 MLB Draft. The Nationals have not shared the terms of the contract, but his draft position slots him in at a projected value of $3,027,000.

The 6-foot-4, 226 pounds just recently began to solely focus on pitching during his sophomore year of college. He went 8-7 with a 4.35 ERA with 114 strikeouts and 53 walks in 27 appearances at Oklahoma.

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Cavalli is one of the four draft picks to have now signed with the Nationals, out of the six players they selected in the 2020 MLB Draft. Catcher Brad Lindsly and pitcher Mitchell Parker signed earlier in the week, according to MLB.com. Infielder Sammy Infante signed Thursday, according to The Washington Post.

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Parker signed for $100,000 while Lindsly signed for $20,000, both below their slot value. The worth of Infante's deal is not yet known. 

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Orioles' draft pick Coby Mayo's career is shaped by tragedy, but still has him chasing a dream

Orioles' draft pick Coby Mayo's career is shaped by tragedy, but still has him chasing a dream

Coby Mayo remembers the exact date and time his life changed forever. 

On Feb. 14, 2018, at 2:21 p.m., a gunman opened fire on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The shooter killed 17 and wounded an additional 17 staff and students. 

Mayo, a sophomore at the time, was in his final class before the day ended. It’s a day he said he won’t ever forget. 

As the community and country mourned for Parkland, life went on at the school. And one of the healing processes for the school was baseball. 

About 27 months after the shooting, Mayo was selected with the 103rd pick of the MLB Draft by the Baltimore Orioles. 

“My community will always hurt from that and it will always be a recovery,” Mayo said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday. “But that day was a very emotional day. Valentine’s Day was supposed to be a day of love and caring for one another.”

Mayo — who was committed to the University of Florida, his dream school — signed with the Orioles instead to start his professional career for a bonus of $1.75 million, far above the slot value of $565,600 for the pick. 

While staying in Florida was tempting, he’s now determined to chase his professional dream of playing in the major league. It’s a dream not only for himself, but for those that lost their lives at Mayo’s alma mater on Valentine’s Day two years ago.

“I play for those (people) because they can’t play,” Mayo said. “They don’t have voices, they couldn’t live what they wanted to do — and I can.

The Eagles lost in the regional final three months and the regional semifinals last season as the community still grieved over the horrific tragedy. This season was supposed to be the high note and feel-good ending of what was a grim high school experience. 

Instead, the coronavirus pandemic canceled the team’s season after just eight games. 

Mayo and the rest of his senior class weren’t able to have their final prom, senior night or graduation together. Instead, Mayo sat at home.

“Nobody is going to go through what those kids have gone through the last three years,” Stoneman Douglas head coach Todd Fitz-Gerald said. “To still be standing with your head high, still understanding what’s in front of you, that’s pretty impressive.”

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What has come out of a dreadful three-year stretch, however, is a level of perspective that is seldom seen in high schoolers across the country. 

“From Feb. 14, 2018, to now, I had to mature, like, five times as much as any high school kid wanted to because of everything that has happened,” Mayo said. “I think it was good for me, in a way. Everything happens for a reason. Maybe if that didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have pushed myself so hard to be where I’m at today.”

That character trickled onto the field, where Fitz-Gerald said Mayo was one of the shining parts of Stoneman Douglas’ program.

“He’s a coach’s dream,” Fitz-Gerald said. “His character is unbelievable, off the charts. He’s never going to disrespect or make the program look bad. He’s always going to represent the Orioles and the organization in the highest regard.”

But the Orioles didn’t just draft Mayo because of his leadership qualities and character. At 6-foot-5, Mayo has incredible power and bat speed for an 18-year-old. 

After Mayo’s selection, Brad Ciolek, the Orioles’ supervisor of domestic scouting operations, said the team was awed by the power he displayed in batting practice. 

“He moves well for a bigger guy, and he also shows 70 raw power (on the 20-80 scouting scale) in BP, and we think that we’ll be able to tap into that down the road,” Ciolek said. “So he has an extremely high ceiling.”

Mayo played shortstop in high school, a move that Fitz-Gerald said was designed to improve his athleticism and footwork defensively, but said he could play either third or first base or become a corner outfielder.

In three full seasons as a varsity starter and one season as a bench player, Mayo batted .389 in 220 plate appearances with 63 hits, 50 RBIs and 13 home runs.

Over just eight games before his senior season was canceled, he batted .455 with a .613 on-base percentage and an OPS of 1.386. He walked eight times and had 10 hits and two home runs in 31 plate appearances.

“It seemed like he always came through when you needed him to come through,” Fitz-Gerald said. “Whatever the situation may be. More times than not, it seemed like he always came through when you needed something big to happen. It’s just one of those things that he’s always been able to do.”

And that’s just at the plate. 

Fitz-Gerald, who previously coached Nick Castellanos and Eric Hosmer, called Mayo’s arm the best high school arm in the country. 

With that ability, Mayo can move all around the field, Fitz-Gerald said, though he thinks Mayo might best be suited for first base or a corner outfield spot.

“I would love to stay at third base, but wherever they see me — it could be an outfielder, first baseman, third baseman — I want to be in the lineup and contribute as much as I can,” Mayo said.

He met with one of the Orioles’ area scouts in the fall as the team tracked his senior year. He figured the Orioles were one of the teams that could be interested in selecting him, and once they did, he made the choice to forego college for professional baseball. 

Yet no matter how many home runs Mayo hits or how many times he makes a great defensive play, he’ll carry the history of Stoneman Douglas with him.

It’s part of Mayo’s story now and will always be one of the first things people remember when they hear where Mayo went to high school.

But Mayo has accepted that, and he’ll never forget who he represents as he ascends the professional ranks.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I knew that I wanted to be a Major League Baseball player,” Mayo said. “Those people had dreams too. And I want to fulfill their dreams by fulfilling mine.”

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Meet Jordan Westburg, the Orioles’ 30th overall pick who didn’t think he’d be an Oriole

Meet Jordan Westburg, the Orioles’ 30th overall pick who didn’t think he’d be an Oriole

Jordan Westburg is just one of the newest faces of the Orioles’ rebuild. But he’s already got a leg up on his future teammates.

Selected 30th overall by the Orioles on Wednesday night, he’s already encountered the most notable face of the rebuild — Adley Rutschman. 

Westburg’s Mississippi State team lost to Rutschman’s Oregon State team in the 2018 College World Series. But it wasn’t for Westburg’s lack of production.

He is a prototype shortstop with a .285 batting average and developing power, which was enough for the Orioles to take him 30th overall.

“I’m still just high on life right now with this opportunity,” Westburg said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. “Whenever baseball starts back up, I can’t wait to get it going.”

Westburg posted career on-base and slugging percentages of .385 and .446, respectively, while in the SEC. And while he hit just eight home runs in his first two seasons, the power was coming around. 

He hit six homers in 2019 with 21 doubles and in the 16 games before the ongoing coronavirus pandemic shut down his final season at Mississippi State he already had two home runs and six doubles.

Orioles general manager Mike Elias said that his scouting staff liked Westburg’s ability at shortstop. In most cases at the amateur level, a team’s best player usually plays that spot. Westburg would like to stick at short, but if Baltimore wants to move him around the infield he can do that, too.

“He’s a guy who’s got power, he’s got above-average speed, he can throw, so there’s a lot to like here, and we think he can stay at shortstop,” Elias said. “He’s somebody that I think could’ve gone a couple picks earlier, in the first round, had things shaken out a different way.”

With Westburg’s ability to play multiple positions, his athleticism at 6-foot-3 and 203-pounds jumped out to the Orioles.

“I think probably the best part of my game is my athleticism, and the athleticism allows me to be versatile on the field," Westburg said. "I think it allows me to play an explosive type of baseball, and I think that explosive ability is what’s going to get me to the big leagues.”

Right up until the draft, however, Westburg didn’t envision himself in the Orioles’ organization. He said Baltimore was one of the last teams he spoke with over Zoom, which made it all that much more special when it selected him at the end of the draft’s first night.

“It was kind of weird," Westburg said. "The Orioles were one of the last teams I heard from. I heard from them the Friday before the week of the draft. To have them be the last team that I talked to and then to have the opportunity to be drafted by them just made it special. It made it feel like they were thinking of me that whole entire week leading up to the draft.”

After Heston Kjerstad’s selection at No. 2 overall, Baltimore doubled up on SEC bats with Westburg and continued the trend of adding college bats early in the draft. 

Westburg has seen a lot of Kjerstad in recent years and gave a succinct, deadpan scouting report on how to slow down the former Arkansas Razorbacks outfielder.

“Yeah, don’t throw him anything in the zone,” Westburg said.

With plans still unknown for how the Orioles will approach his development, it’s impossible to say what the next step for Westburg is. 

What both he, Kjerstad and the rest of the Orioles’ draft picks have in common, though, is they’re set to join an organization building from the ground floor. In that regard, he’ll have as good a chance as any draft pick to make his mark fast.

“It makes you feel like you’ve got a chance to be part of something special," Westburg said. "I know that Heston was drafted before me and then Adley last year. Just being able to have my name up with those two guys and have the chance to kind of rise through this organization and try to make an impact is something special.”

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