In the mid-season re-ranking of the Bleacher Nation Cubs’ Top 40 Prospect list, Dylan Cease fell just out of the top five overall (in an admittedly strong system).
Despite having one of the liveliest arms and biggest upside in the Cubs system, there have been some questions about the long-term health of Cease’s arm, given that he underwent Tommy John surgery immediately after the draft in 2014. That has had the Cubs taking a very cautious approach with him, both last year and this year.
But he has been healthy for his past seven starts (dating back to the end of July) and has been pitching extremely well during that stretch.
So well, in fact, that he was just identified as the Northwest League’s Pitcher of the Week for the final week of the season, after two brilliant starts for the Eugene Emeralds from August 29 – September 5.
During the week for which he was honored, Cease combined to throw 10 shutout innings (0.00 ERA) across two starts, giving up just three hits (.091 AVG) and four walks (10.8% BB-rate) against a massive 18 strikeouts (48.7%).
Here’s some video of his tenth and final strikeout from Monday:
You can read more about his last start – where Cease carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning – here at MiLB.com. For his part, Cease said his curveball was working well for him that day, and that he was just focused on being aggressive in the zone.
For the season (12 starts), Cease has collected a stellar 2.22 ERA across 44.2 innings pitched – he was probably not ever going to throw too many innings this year, even without another injury, so the low total is somewhat expected. Walks/control have been something of a problem (13.7%) this year, but it certainly helps that he’s striking batters out in a whopping 36.3% of their plate appearances. Ultimately, his 2.92 FIP suggests he really was quite good this season.
Cease remains a pitcher to keep your eyes on over the offseason and in 2017. As I mentioned before, he is among the highest upside players – not just pitchers, but players – in the Cubs’ farm system. Whether he can get there eventually or not, well, that’s why we’ll be watching.