This has been a pretty fun year covering minor league for my own web site and Cubs Insider. However, last Friday night, I run into some disappointment when the MiLB.TV link did not work when Dylan Cease was scheduled to pitch. I had to suffer through two hours of Boise radio as Cease went 4 IP with 2 Ks, 1 BB, and 1 ER. I did get a couple small glimpses through Steve Jackson. Well, last night, Cease pitched again. And the same MiLB.TV problems occured. But I got through it via radio. It was worth it to hear the Eugene feed gush over Dylan Cease.
Cease was drafted in 2014 by the Cubs in the sixth round. Cease easily had first round talent but TJS caused him to drop. The Cubs took advantage of the uneasiness surrounding his surgery and paid him handsomely to have his services.
I first became aware of Cease at the Under Armour Classic at Wrigley in 2013, Here is some early footage of delivery with max effort that pushed the limits of what a radar gun could do.
In 2015, MLB Pipeline ranked him at #11 out 30 top Cubs prospect. They said of his potential:
Cease had a 91-95 mph fastball that topped out at 97 before he got hurt, and he worked at 94-97 and reached triple digits in his first games back after his elbow reconstruction. He also has a three-quarters breaking ball in the mid-70s and a changeup with fade, both of which have the potential to become solid offerings but lack consistency.
Cease isn’t very physical and generates his premium velocity with athleticism and arm speed. There’s some effort in his delivery but he repeats it well and throws strikes.
Last summer, Cease was relegated to three innings/50 pitch limits in Rookie League in Arizona. He pitched in 11 games for 24 innings. He posted a 2.63 ERA and had 25 Ks with 16 BBs and 12 hits. Opponents batted a paltry .145 against him. Bill Mitchell ranked him as the #2 prospect in the league.
Heading into 2016, MLB Pipeline bumped Cease up to #8. Just last week, I had him #4 on my Top 21 list. He could be #2 or #3 by the end of the year. I, for one, thought he would skip Eugene and head to South Bend in late May when the weather was warmer. That did not happen.
I did not really have any heading into the game. He was going to throw what he was going to throw. He’s very, very good. He can throw 95-100 mph with a plus curve and a changeup he still needs to get over for strikes. I think that the hype and the hope are the same as the reality.
In the first inning, Cease came out andthrew 24 pitches. A lot of the at bats were deep counts. His fastball was around 92 to 94 miles an hour. He struck out 2 and hit one batter.
In the second inning, his fastball got up to 98 easily. It was his best inning of the game. His curve got over at 76. At one point, he had 10 straight strikes.
In the third, he struggled a bit. This was more like first inning as the counts were big, but the fastball was still live. He did shake off the catcher once and the next pitch resulted in a double soon followed by a single and that gave Spokane a 1-0 lead.
It’s not that he was starting to labor pitching, but he was having to go deep counts to get out of the inning. It was almost as if the second inning was an anomaly.
The fourth inning was almost a repeat of the first. He had a lot of 2/2, 3/2 hours. He made it out of the inning without giving up a run, just an infield single was all Spokane could muster. His seventh strikeout ended the frame.
In all, Cease he went four innings, gave up one run, allowed three hits, a hit by pitch, and struck out seven. What I found impressive was that Spokane did not get a lot of hard hits off of him except for the double. I also found the second inning to be impressive as he was very efficient. The other three innings he had to work at it. Sometimes that’s OK. I would still like to see him get to the fifth inning very soon.
To date, he has a 2.25 ERA for the year.
While it is OK to be excited about Cease, i think one needs to not expect perfection. I liked that he struckout 7 in four innings, but I would like to see him get deeper into the game. It is only his second “official” start of the year, there is still a lot to be excited about.
I still think you will see him in South Bend in August now that the Cubs qualified for the playoffs.