Baylor baseball coach Steve Rodriguez knew what he was saying after his team defeated Oklahoma in the Big 12 tournament back in May.
OU pitcher Cade Cavalli struggled earlier that day, allowing two home runs, before settling with four hits and two walks charged to him over five innings.
It was the final start in his otherwise strong sophomore campaign with the Sooners. Opponents took notice and regarded him as one of the conference’s most electric arms and improving bats.
“He should be a candidate for Team USA,” Rodriguez said. “He’s going to be something pretty special.”
Tuesday, Cavalli was no longer a candidate.
He was one of 26 players on the Team USA collegiate roster ahead of a five-game friendly series against Cuba. The squad will be trimmed to 24 before traveling to Taiwan and Japan next week.
Cavalli earned a spot after a cut was made at the team’s training camp last week. He and Baylor infielder Nick Loftin are the lone Big 12 representatives.
Former OU star Steele Walker played for Team USA in 2017, which preceded a big junior year he parlayed into becoming the 46th overall MLB Draft pick.
Cavalli’s career is trending a similar direction.
He developed a 90 mph slider that aided his transition from first base to a starting pitcher/designated hitter role. He accrued a 5-3 record on the mound in the spring, and at 6 feet 4, 224 pounds, became one of the nation’s top two-way players, ending the season with a 3.28 earned-run average and .319 batting average.
OU planned to shut Cavalli’s arm down for the summer if he didn’t make the national team.
At Team USA he’ll be managed by Louisville coach Dan McDonnell, plus assistants Mark Kingston (South Carolina), Tony Skole (The Citadel), pitching coach Greg Moore (Saint Mary's) and bench coach Dave Turgeon (Pittsburgh Pirates).
Games against Cuba on July 3, 4 and 6 will be live streamed on USA Baseball’s Facebook channel before the team leaves for Taiwan on July 7 in preparation for the 19th consecutive friendship series against Chinese Taipei International (July 9-12). The schedule ends against the Japan Collegiate All-Stars in various Japanese cities July 16-21.
Cavalli isn’t the only Sooner playing internationally.
Ben Abram, a Georgetown, Ontario native, is with the Canadian National Team. The rising sophomore pitcher benefited from two years with the Canadian Junior National Team in high school before earning freshman Collegiate Baseball All-America this past spring.
Jordan Vujovich is on the Serbian National Team trying to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. The squad of Serbian and American players is playing a qualifying tournament July 1-7 in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, competing against Bulgaria, Greece, Ireland, Israel and Russia competing for a spot.
Vujovich, a Sacramento, California native, led OU with a .444 on-base percentage as a redshirt sophomore after transferring from Delta (California) College.