6'4/180, R/R, Senior, 17.88 on Draft Day
I've seen Cave pitch a number of times and the first time was a few days before the 2013 draft when he sat 87-89 mph at an East Coast Pro Showcase regional workout. He threw a soft 3/4 curveball at 69-72 that he needed to throw with fastball arm speed to get tighter break, but he is very lanky and would probably figure that out and add more arm speed with maturity. He threw just one changeup at 82 mph. A few weeks later, I saw Cave at the Perfect Game National in Minneapolis and he looked about the same, sitting 86-90 mph but the curveball was even softer, at 65-68 mph. He didn't throw a changeup at this outing
I filed his name away as a guy to come back to if the breaking ball or velocity improved and didn't see him again until the Diamond Club showcase in Lakeland, FL in October. Cave sat 87-90 mph again, although his velocity dipped a bit into the mid-80's at the end of his two inning outing. He showed more sink to his fastball with above average two seam life down in the zone and also threw a few changeups at 82-84 mph. Cave left the changeups up in the zone and didn't look to have much feel for the pitch. His curveball was much improved at 74-77 mph and flashed solid-average potential. With that, Cave jumped back onto the draft radar.
While his shoulders are narrow, so you can't project him to add as much bulk as other pitchers, Cave has very long limbs and could still get taller as he is one of the younger players in his prep class (he won't turn 18 until over a month after the draft). I saw him briefly at the WWBA World Championships in Jupiter, FL a few weeks later where he peaked at 91 mph and his off-speed pitches looked about the same as at Diamond Club. I projected Cave as a 5th round pick around this time--clearly on the draft radar--but just better than 50/50 to end up going to school, as that type of talent commands a low six figure bonus that most players pass up to try to improve their stock.
Fastball: 50/55+, Curveball: 45/55+, Changeup: 30/40, Command: 40/50
A couple scouts tipped me off to last night's home game for Cave being the scouting event of the day in the state, as most top arms (high school and college) were going Friday and the rumor was his velo has spiked the week before. The tip was good, as there were 40 scouts at the game, including a couple scouting directors and multiple sources confirmed Cave sat in the low-90's and hit 94 mph the week before with less than half as many scouts in attendance.
It was chilly by Florida standards and he was a tick lower than advertised, but Cave held his fastball longer than he did in his previous outing, sitting 89-92 mph all four innings and hitting 93 mph once in the 1st inning. He commanded the pitch pretty well and regularly flashed above average life down in the zone. Cave is still growing into his 6'4 frame, so command is expected to come later, but he's a solid athlete (which helps with the command projection) and it's worth noting that he's appeared to grow at least an inch since the summer.
Cave didn't throw a changeup at all (why speed up the bats of mediocre high school hitters?) and still didn't have consistent feel for his curveball, but he did snap off more than a couple big league hooks. Cave was still throwing it too softly at 70-73 mph early in the game, but by the 3rd inning he had ratcheted up the arm speed to 72-75 mph and broken off a few above average curves. Given his age and frame, Cave's arm speed could still improve a little more, so you can't rule out it eventually becoming a 60 pitch, but he still casted a number of below average curves in this outing, so there's work to be done. Some scouts strongly prefer more downer curveballs than the 3/4 type that Cave throws and that may move him down a round for some clubs, but doesn't fundamentally change his projection.
I generally like Cave's delivery, as he loads him arm up early and eliminates the chance that it drags behind his body (which creates velocity but costs command and often causes injuries). He's online to the plate with a slightly closed foot at plane and he aggressively finishes his delivery with a full follow-through. Cave's delivery reminds me a lot of former UCF righty Ben Lively (2013 Reds 4th rounder). They both have a 3/4 arm slot and take an aggressive stride, costing some plane on their pitches and creating some head movement around release.
Most scouts will look at Cave like a puppy: a young projection case that they can mold in development but need to identify the key characteristics that give him the best chance to reach his upside. The most basic things are there and with the recent velo spike, his stock has risen from the 5th-6th round to the 3rd-4th round. There's still plenty of time for his velocity to further improve or his changeup to materialize, but right now he's more of a potential back-end starter without much polish that has a good chance to end up in relief, given all the unknowns.
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