Cade Cavalli shines as Blue Rocks open up second half with a win over IronBirds

Cade Cavalli strides towards home plate. Cavalli threw three no-hit innings in the 6-3 win on Friday. - Friday, June 21, 2024. / Photo via Ryan Griffith

Two home runs from red-hot Jeremy De La Rosa and a near-perfect start from Cade Cavalli led the Wilmington Blue Rocks to a 6-3 win against the Aberdeen IronBirds on Friday, June 21. 

De La Rosa had five RBI on the day and three of the six Blue Rock hits, including the two rockets he launched over the right-field wall.  

“I was just looking for something I can handle,” De La Rosa said.

His first homer was a no-doubt three-run shot, but his second, which came in the third, was down the line and curved right around the inside of the foul pole to stay fair and put two more runs on the board and make the score 5-0.  

“It was in the middle,” De La Rosa said. “I was like fair, fair, fair, fair, and then it’s gone!”

With Daylen Lile being called up earlier in the week, Wilmington will be expecting production out of the lefty outfielders like De La Rosa and Jared McKenzie.  

“Those guys were here last year,” development coach Mark Harris said. “They have experience in this league. We got have some guys that don’t have experience and they’re just getting their feet wet. We expect a little more out of those guys. Lately they’ve been coming through, and we’ve been able to get some hits, some walks and stolen bases together to come up with runs. Once we get everybody up and running, we’ll have a pretty good chance in the second half.”

Cade Cavalli made his first start at Daniel S. Frawley Stadium in June of 2021. He went three hitless and scoreless innings, striking out three and walking just one.  

“Hitting the mound brings up emotions,” Cavalli said. “It’s a lot of gratefulness and thankfulness. You’re looking back on a lot of the work that you did, so when you get out there you feel very thankful just to be able to compete. This is where my pro career started. To be able to have a start back here felt great.  This is where it started so it felt like it all came back to me.”

Cavalli is rehabbing in Wilmington after a UCL injury last spring required Tommy John surgery and caused him to miss the entire 2023 season.  

“I was very happy to walk off that mound healthy,” Cavalli said. “That’s the key coming back into rehab, it’s most important. On top of it, I was glad with the adjustments I made after the first inning. I left some heaters up, and then I made it a point to try and get them down and establish that… I’m very happy with it overall and I’m just glad we got to work in some pitches. They played great defense behind me in order to be hitless”.  

Cavalli will be limited for a while, but each week he should be able to see more and more work and extend his outings further into games. Taking it slow and working back little by little is a tough, but necessary part of recovery appearances.  

“The challenge is that it’s day to day with rehab,” Cavalli said. “You’re assessing your arm every day.  You’re going to take care of the physical part because we have a great staff, but it’s battling the mental stuff everyday. We have great people at the rehab complex that equip you with the tools to get you through those tough days.”

Cavalli is a former first-round pick and he has played at the major league level, so the coaching staff will be cautious with how long they’ll let him go in his upcoming starts. 

“They’re going to be real careful with him coming back from that,” Harris said. “Today it was 50 pitches, probably the next outing it’ll go to 60 and work his way up. They’re going to be in no hurry with him.”

The bullpen did well enough to hold off an Aberdeen comeback and the runs supplied by De La Rosa were too many to overcome. With this win marking the start of the second half of the season, the Blue Rocks look to improve their current positioning in the standings with a tough part of their schedule behind them.  

“Before [Hudson Valley] we were in Bowling Green and Rome, the first two teams in the other side,”   Harris said. “It’s been a tough month. I think we’ve played good ball throughout the month… We’re feeling pretty good and confident going in, so hopefully we can get some guys going and start scoring some runs.”

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