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Cease eager to make impact with White Sox

No. 3 prospect had a 2.40 ERA and 160 K's in 124 IP in Minors in 2018
@scottmerkin
March 23, 2019

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There are a few certainties about Dylan Cease before the right-hander throws his first Major League pitch for the White Sox. Cease, 23, ranks as the No. 21 prospect overall and the No. 3 White Sox prospect per MLB Pipeline. He was named the 2018 Minor League

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There are a few certainties about Dylan Cease before the right-hander throws his first Major League pitch for the White Sox.

Cease, 23, ranks as the No. 21 prospect overall and the No. 3 White Sox prospect per MLB Pipeline. He was named the 2018 Minor League Pitcher of the Year by MLB Pipeline after posting a 12-2 record with a 2.40 ERA over 23 starts between Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham, striking out 160 over 124 innings.

Barring some sort of unforeseen setback, Cease will make his White Sox debut in this upcoming campaign.

As for the unknown …

The White Sox managed Cease’s workload during Spring Training and, with the 124 innings he threw last year serving as a career high, it’s not known what his limit will be. His present scenario and path to the Majors is not unlike that of Michael Kopech from 2018.

“You see a big league arsenal," said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn of Cease. “And you see a guy that not only could survive, but would have success at the big league level. However, similar to Michael Kopech a year ago, his career-high in innings is [124].

“So, it'd be very difficult to sit here and say, 'Oh, I envision Dylan Cease taking the ball every fifth day throughout a six-month Major League season.’ He's never taken the ball every fifth day throughout a five-month season really, much less a six-month season. Certainly if he continues on this trajectory that he's on, we could see him sometime in Chicago over the course of the summer.”

Ask any number of scouts about Cease, and they will immediately come up with phrases such as "the most polished pitcher in the Minors last season." That’s a good characteristic to possess along with a fastball capable of reaching 100 mph. Cease feels ready to tackle the Major League challenge, while also understanding the hype surrounding him since he came to the White Sox with Eloy Jimenez as part of the Jose Quintana trade with the Cubs.

But by Cease’s own admission, there is a great deal left for him to learn and plenty of room for growth.

“Consistency,” said Cease during his stint at big league camp in regard to his biggest need for improvement. “Throwing off-speed [pitches] for a strike, commanding a fastball. All the cliché stuff, but at the end of the day, it’s truth. Just being as consistent as I can be.”

“Dylan Cease’s physical stuff is there,” White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. “Now it’s the command of that physical stuff. The consistency of more fastballs for strikes everywhere. It’s more consistently dropping in the curveball for strikes. More consistency of the slider for strikes for lefties and righties, and being able to expand after that. The continuing development of a changeup along with holding runners.”

A plan is in place for Cease. It's one that remains flexible, but is geared for getting him through an entire season strong. The 2020 season might actually be the beginning of Cease’s real prime, much like the White Sox rebuild. But he could make a significant impact as soon as ’19.

“We all feel his time is coming,” Cooper said. “He’s going to be there. We just aren’t sure when. How do you best spend your time? It’s preparing like I just mentioned because then hopefully we can hit the ground running when you get there.”

“He is a very bright young man,” said White Sox manager Rick Renteria of Cease. “He has an absolute understanding of everything that he does, from the mechanical to the approaches to hitters. He’s meticulous in his preparation, so he’s ahead of the curve. It’s incumbent upon us to be patient and not put ourselves in a position where we try to rush things.”

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.