GLENDALE, Ariz — When Jose Quintana was traded to the Cubs in July last year, the big name in the trade was Eloy Jimenez. Touted as the second coming of Giancarlo Stanton, and more recently perhaps even Frank Thomas, the hype around Jimenez was huge.
Jimenez’s spring has done nothing to quiet the huge comparisons. Since returning from a knee injury that sidelined Jimenez for all but one at bat in spring training the 21 year old has been as good as advertised. Hitting home runs in his firs two at bats post injury, including one in his match-up against his former organization. Lost in all the discussion about the electric bat, is the other piece the White Sox acquired in the cross town blockbuster.
Dylan Cease, a first round talent that fell to the sixth round due to Tommy John surgery, was the second piece coming over from the Cubs in the 2017 trade. In high school, Cease was considered a first round talent. The elbow injury damaged his stock, but did not damage his stuff.
A fastball that receives a 70-grade from scouts, and a 65-grade curveball only begins to tell the story of Cease. Since spring training started, Cease has seen his fastball hit 98, and has been getting consistent swings and misses on his curveball. Some scouts have even compared his fastball to that of legendary fire-baller, Dwight Gooden.
Cease’s spring success comes as no surprise to the organization that traded for him under a year ago. Cease was impressive in a brief stint in the White Sox organization last year. Posting a 2.79 ERA in 13 appearances while striking out a staggering 74 batters, and walking 26. There is no question Cease has the stuff of a successful major league pitcher, the only question is his control. Control of his deadly off speed pitches, and electric curveball was a point of emphasis for Cease this offseason, as well as developing a reliable third pitch, a changeup.
Earlier in the offseason, White Sox director of scouting Nick Hostetler named Dylan as a prospect that everyone should watch for in the upcoming season. He said that Cease had put work into making his delivery more reliable, work that has already paid dividends this spring. He also said that Cease had been delivering more reliable bullpen sessions, a sentiment shared by everyone in the organization thus far this spring. Cease’s progress was something that Hostetler raved about in January.
Hostetler insisted that many have been so caught up in the progress of Eloy Jimenez, the big fish of the Quintana trade, that they have forgotten about Cease. This is a mistake according to him. Hostetler named Cease specifically as a prospect that had been blowing everyone in the organization away with his offseason progress. Including beginning to master that curveball that will be so important to his success. The same curveball that is absolutely devastating when paired with his 98 mile per hour fastball.
While everyone will tell you that Cease still has a lot of work left to do to reach his full potential as a starter, he certainly looked the part during his spring training with the Sox. Pitching against consistent major league talent, Cease more than held his own. While it was a limited sample, and only spring training, Cease was very impressive.
In his two starts, the 22-year old struck out nine batters, while walking three and only giving up three hits. Cease was producing swings and misses on mesmerizing curveballs. Even though it was only spring training, Cease was getting established major leaguers out. At time with pitches that even the most established veterans wouldn’t be able to hit. The below is an example of some of what Cease is bringing to the table.
Dylan Cease gets Dee Gordon with a NASTY hook after touching 98 previously in the AB pic.twitter.com/BzhcCtj5fA
— Ozzie (@OzzieStern) March 13, 2018
A 98 mile per hour fastball, mixed with a nasty curve and developing changeup are just some of the reasons to be excited for Cease. Although he is very young, and has yet to pitch 100 innings in a season, and still has a lot of work to do — there is plenty of arm talent there and a lot to be excited about.
Cease will likely start the year in High-A or potentially Double-A depending on how impressed the organization was with his strong spring. One thing remains clear though, Cease is set on being on a top of the line starter. He has the potential, and the pitches to be a top of the line starter, and hopefully, one day he will be.
So Sox fans, be excited for Eloy, he appears to be a superstar in the making. It is important though, that while drooling over Eloy’s potential, don’t forget about the uber talented pitcher that came over from the Cubs with him, don’t forget about Dylan Cease.