Cease set to join White Sox for debut

No. 18 overall prospect to make first start Wednesday

Dylan Cease logged nine starts of at least five innings this season in the International League. (Joshua Tjiong/MiLB.com)

By Andrew Battifarano / MiLB.com | June 30, 2019 6:09 PM

On Friday, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told reporters Dylan Cease was "getting awfully close" to the Majors. On Wednesday, MLB.com's No. 18 prospect finally will get to toe a big league rubber. 

Cease will make his White Sox debut by starting the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader against the Tigers, the team revealed Sunday. 

The third-ranked White Sox prospect, who was acquired by the White Sox along with Eloy Jimenez in the Jose Quintana trade in 2017, has pitched with Triple-A Charlotte this season after spending last year between the Class A Advanced and Double-A levels. 

In his first year with the Knights, Cease went 5-2 with a 4.48 ERA (3.77 FIP, according to Fangraphs) and a 1.57 WHIP across 68 1/3 innings during his first stint at Triple-A. He racked up 73 strikeouts, which ranks 10th in the International League. He also pitched 2 2/3 frames for the big league club in the Cactus League this season.

After his Triple-A debut, Cease said the experience with the White Sox constituted more than just his short time on the mound in games. 

Video: Charlotte's Cease fans 11th

"Any time you can get experience on the big league side of things, I always cherish that and try to take as much away from it as I can," Cease told MiLB.com on April 10. "For me this year, I got hit around a little bit in Spring Training, so it kind of makes you refocus and make sure you're on top of your game. So it was solid. 

"Someone I talked to a good amount was [Lucas] Giolito. It's even necessarily the baseball side of it, a lot of times it's the, 'How are you handling adversity?' Little things like that are important when it comes to being a good pitcher. I try to learn as much as I can from the guys that have been there."

Noted for his 70-grade fastball that regularly touches the high-90s and a plus-curveball that grades out at 65 mph, Cease has accumulated 450 strikeouts in 354 1/3 innings since he turned pro in 2015. 

"He's got four plus pitches and he can throw them all for strikes," White Sox director of player development Chris Getz told MiLB.com in March. "Now it's about being able to locate in all quadrants. But his pitches have great spin rate, and we like where he's at physically and from a maturity standpoint. We wanted a season's worth of innings last year, and he went beyond expectations there. We're confident he's gonna have another great season and we'll see where he finishes."

2019 MiLB include

A strong piece in the Cubs system before the right-hander was dealt in July 2017, Cease truly broke through in his first full campaign with the White Sox last season. He started 9-2 with a 2.89 ERA in the Carolina League before closing out the season with a 1.72 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP over 10 starts with Double-A Birmingham.

His stellar season earned him an All-Star Futures Game nod, MiLB Organization All-Star selection and MLB Pipeline's Pitcher of the Year honors. 

Overall, the 23-year-old has a 21-16 record and a 3.02 ERA in his Minor League career. Cease joins Jimenez as the second big piece from the 2017 blockbuster deal to get the call from the White Sox.

Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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