Washington Nationals right-hander and top pitching prospect Cade Cavalli will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the entire 2023 season, the team announced Thursday. Cavalli suffered the injury in Tuesday's spring training start. He was in obvious discomfort after throwing a pitch, and shook out his arm while leaving the field.
"An MRI has revealed that he has a grade three sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament which will require Tommy John surgery," Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said in statement. "While Cade will not pitch in 2023, he continues to be a very important part of our franchise's future and we look forward to having him back on the mound."
Here is Cavalli's injury:
Cavalli, 24, was the No. 22 pick in the 2020 draft. He made his MLB debut last August and surrendered seven runs in 4 1/3 innings in is only start, and was sidelined with shoulder inflammation soon thereafter. In 20 Triple-A starts prior to his call up, Cavalli had a 3.99 ERA with 104 strikeouts in 97 innings.
Our R.J. Anderson did not rank Cavalli among the Nationals' top three prospects. MLB.com ranked him the fourth-best prospect in Washington's system, saying he "sits 95-97 mph with his fastball and is capable of touching triple digits" and has a very good slider and changeup. Tommy John surgery typically comes with a 14-16 month rehab, so Cavalli may not return until the middle of 2024.
Cavalli was favored to win a spot in Washington's rotation this spring. Non-roster righty Chad Kuhl is likely to claim that spot now. The Nationals went 55-107 last season and are expected to be among the worst teams in baseball again this year. Cavalli breaking into the MLB rotation was going to be an important part of the club's rebuild this year.