Making a name for himself, Dylan Cease came back from a significant injury and is proving he has what it takes to compete at the major league level. Lucky for opposing pitchers he still requires one more year in the minors
Just like the trade with the Boston Red Sox, there was another name overshadowed by another top prospect when the White Sox sent Jose Quintana to the cross-town rival Cubs in 2017.
When the trade details were announced, everyone was fixated on Eloy Jimenez, and rightfully so. Jimenez is a five-tool player who was on the brink of making his debut before the trade even occurred. But just as Michael Kopech was overshadowed by the name Yoan Moncada, Jimenez left the name Dylan Cease in the dark.
Cease was a presumed first rounder in 2014, but requiring Tommy John surgery after his senior year in high school dropped his draft stock. Drafted in the 6th round in 2014 by the Cubs, a 19-year-old Cease opted to sign and play ball in the Cubs organization. In his first season, he immediately began to turn heads working a 2.63 ERA in 24 innings striking out 25 in 2015. The only concern was him walking 16, but as a 19-year-old, he was a solid pitching prospect.
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Even though his debut season was top-notch, it was not even his best season. After settling down with his new organization, Cease dominated in 2018. He started his season at A Winston-Salem. He posted a 2.89 ERA in 71.2 innings. What was more impressive was his ability to reduce his amount of walks. Striking out 82, he only allowed 28 free passes. And the fact that he only gave up five home runs means he does not give up too much contact.
But he became even more unhittable when he was promoted to Double-A Birmingham. He posted a 1.72 ERA in 52 innings. If given the chance, he would have exceeded the 82 strikeouts because he struck out 78 in 20 fewer innings. His best game at the Double-A level, Cease pitched seven innings allowing only one hit and one walk while striking out 12.
Averaging a 12.2 K/9 and a great 2018 earned Cease to be named MLB Pipeline’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
Since 2015, his debut season, Cease has been able to push his fastball to near 100 mph. However, it sits anywhere between 94-98. He has a sharp curveball that has been compared to the Doc Dwight Gooden. Those two pitches along with a developing changeup can prove to be a strong foundation for his career.
A good sign for White Sox fans is the fact that Cease underwent Tommy John surgery and he was able to come back and earn the MiLB pitcher of the year award. Keeping Kopech in mind, that is a good sign. Besides Kopech, however, an even better sign is how a 19-year-old was able to physically and mentally comeback from his UCL tear. If Cease can get through such a significant injury at such a young age, there is no telling what he can do.
Most likely to make his MLB debut in June or July next year, possibly even for the September call-ups, the workhorse mentality Cease brings will be essential going forward.
For an otherwise disappointing season for a few of the White Sox prized prospects, Cease was one who rose above all. For the beginning of this Prospect Profiles series, Cease was ranked fourth in the White Sox organization. Since then, Luis Robert was pushed back to fourth and Cease climbed closer to the top of the White Sox Top 30 prospects list.