The Chicago Cubs have been pumping young position talent into their roster for the last few years. But the pitching has been catching up, and the Cubs have one that has quietly slid up to their No. 3 prospect.
When the Chicago Cubs took Dylan Cease in the sixth-round of the 2014 MLB June Amateur Draft, it left him with a tough decision to make. Originally projected as a first-round pick, Cease knew that he was going to need Tommy John surgery. His choice? Accept a scholarship to play for the Vanderbilt Commodore’s or accept the sixth-round offer to play for the Cubs. It was his injury that left him leaning towards the Cubs.
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Cease was a hard-throwing high-schooler prior to needing the surgery. With the Cubs facilities and rehab staff, Cease felt like his best chance to succeed was in the Cubs organization. It seems to have been the right choice as his fastball has seen a jump in velocity from the mid-90’s to the upper 90’s–and sometimes higher.
Cease is a three-pitch pitcher, using the fastball to set up his curveball and his change. The curve has improved from a three-quarters breaking ball into a true power curve. One club official likened it to Dwight Gooden‘s. With the fallibility of any player taken in the draft, especially pitchers, the Cubs have taken hitters first, with pitchers in larger numbers in the later rounds. They’ve played the “quantity over quality” card, and it may be paying off. The success with Cubs after surgery has been strong, and Cease hopes to fall in line with guys like Ryan Dempster and Hector Rondon to name a few.
For Cease, it’s still early. He spent 2015 at Low-A Eugene, but the numbers were promising. In 12 starts he was 2-0 with a 2.22 ERA. He struck out 66 hitters in 46 2/3 innings while walking 25. After being limited in his first two seasons the Cubs may loosen up the reigns in 2017. It’s been a while since the Cubs had a pitching prospect that has excited fans, but Cease could be the one to rekindle that.
Part of his rise through the organization’s top prospects can be attributed to the trades of other top names. But make no mistake, Cease has great stuff and could be one of the most notable pitchers to make his way to Wrigley Field from the farm system since Mark Prior and Kerry Wood.