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OU baseball: Head coach Skip Johnson praises pitching staff success in 2020 MLB Draft, Cade Cavalli going in first round

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Skip Johnson

Coach Skip Johnson talks to the the press for the opening season press conference on Jan. 30, 2018.

Sooner baseball coach Skip Johnson watched four of his players and two of his signees be selected in the 2020 MLB Draft Wednesday and Thursday night.

Cade Cavalli, Oklahoma's Friday-night starting right-hander, went as early as 22nd by the Washington Nationals in the first round Wednesday night. A First Team All-Big 12 selection in his sophomore year, Cavalli sported a 3.28 earned run average and a 3.19 batting average in 2019 and was a dynamic piece of Johnson's pitching staff with a fastball reaching 95 miles per hour.

Johnson, who recruited Cavalli and watched him grow throughout his college career, praised Cavalli for his growth at OU.

"The biggest deal is he's smart enough to look at and to go through the scouting report, read about the scouting report and attack the scouting report," Johnson said Friday in a Zoom media conference. "Where it gets tough at times is when you try to make guys swing and miss. When you try to make them swing and miss, you get out of control. … I think that’s the biggest thing Cade’s learned.”

Of course, two of his other aces and weekend starters, left-hander Levi Prater and right-hander Dane Acker, went 93rd (third round) to the St. Louis Cardinals and 127th (fourth round) to the Oakland Athletics Thursday, respectively. Sooner catcher Brady Lindsly joined Cavalli after being drafted by the Nationals with the 143rd pick.

Among the OU signees being drafted were shortstop Ed Howard, who went 16th overall to the Chicago Cubs, and left-handed pitcher Dax Fulton being drafted 40th by the Miami Marlins.

With a pitching rotation as accomplished as Cavalli, Prater and Acker, Johnson can only wonder what could've been if the 2020 season wasn't canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"When you look at those guys that we had in Cade, Levi and Acker ... I don't have an expectation for kids, but this is what it should look like, right?" Johnson said. "My goal is to build relationships and to teach life lessons to these kids. And to watch how much those guys grew when they were here. So I think it just shows you what our program is about. Shows you what our baseball program’s about. Shows you what our coaching staff is about.

"It's about development, and I think that was what was beautiful and I really wish we could have reaped the benefits of rest of the year. Who knows how that would have played out, but I gotta think it would have been good."

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Caleb McCourry is the assistant sports editor at The Daily and is a junior at OU majoring in English. He's covered football, basketball and volleyball. 

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