Cease turns some heads in first spring start

White Sox hard-throwing prospect strikes out four, shows composure

March 5th, 2018

MESA, Ariz. -- may be a few years away from the Major Leagues, but he showed Monday he can work through a big league lineup.

Cease, one of the White Sox top pitching prospects and the "other" guy acquired from the Cubs in last July's trade, threw a pair of scoreless innings against the A's at Hohokam Stadium.

Facing a lineup that looked fairly similar to the one the A's likely will use come Opening Day, Cease allowed just one hit and struck out four in his first Cactus League start.

"I just wanted to be relaxed. Relaxed with my body and attack and not over think it," the 22-year-old said. "I felt very relaxed out there. Felt like I could have kept going, which is always a good sign."

Cease rates as the White Sox's No. 5 prospect by MLB Pipeline and No. 10 according to Baseball America. He's shown the ability to reach 100 mph with his fastball and compiled 126 strikeouts in 93 1/3 innings last season between the High-A South Atlantic and Midwest leagues.

"We want to see him perform in an 'A' game," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said before the team left its Camelback Ranch complex Monday morning. "That's the biggest component: We want to see him in a big league game."

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Cease worked around a single and error to strike out the side in the first. He got swinging to start the inning, then with a runner on third, got swinging and looking.

He walked two and threw a wild pitch in the second, but got Fowler on a groundout to strand another runner at third.

"He's a very composed young man," Renteria said. "He is an individual who knows what he's capable of, I believe. It's just a matter of it all coming together."

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"No matter the situation, I can bear down and get the job done," Cease said, noting the confidence boost from such an outing. "It definitely helps. If anything, it gives me more motivation to go back and do the little things and continue that process of getting ready for the next one."

Cease used all four of his pitches: fastball, curveball, slider and changeup, but it's the changeup that still is a work in progress and a point of emphasis this spring.

"It's definitely one of those feel pitches that might take me a little bit to be more consistent with," he said, "but I'm happy throwing it right now."

Cease's first appearance this spring was 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. The whole experience of being in a big league camp for the first time has been one of learning.

"How to prepare yourself and be more consistent, because at the big league level, guys are consistent every day, and it's way harder than it looks," Cease said.