White Sox

Dylan Cease, pitching tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, showing why he’s a part of White Sox bright future

Dylan Cease, pitching tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, showing why he’s a part of White Sox bright future

Dylan Cease isn’t the highest-ranked pitching prospect in the White Sox system. He wasn’t even the highest-ranked prospect in the trade that brought him to this organization.

But Cease is doing anything but flying under the radar, a testament to the amount of minor league talent and the level of interest in this rebuilding process.

Cease, no slouch in the rankings at No. 5 in the White Sox organization and No. 56 in baseball, is having a nice season at Class A Winston-Salem. He enters Thursday night’s game — which will air on NBC Sports Chicago — with a 3.12 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 40.1 innings of work. Last time out, he bounced back from his only real rough start of the campaign, throwing six shutout innings. It paled only in comparison to his finest start of the year: seven shutout innings with 12 strikeouts on the first day of May.

Earlier this month, he spoke on a conference call about some of his hopes for and improvements made during the 2018 season.

“Making every start is probably one of the most important things when it comes to being a starting pitcher,” Cease said. “For me, my goals are more execution-based. How am I executing my pitches? How are they coming out of my hand? Things like that. But that’s definitely on the back-burner of something I want to do.

“I definitely feel like I’ve taken a step forward (with my command). The ability is there, it’s just whether you can consistently do it. And for me, I feel like I’ve been doing it better, and I’m continuing to kind of narrow down on my process and find the consistent things I need to do in order to put myself in a position to execute my pitches. So it’s definitely getting better.”

White Sox fans who haven’t taken the leap and sprung for the minor league streaming service will finally get a chance to see Cease pitch for the first time since an impressive spring training, when he pitched 6.1 shutout innings over three outings, allowing just three hits.

It was a big deal for the 22-year-old, acquired not a full year prior in that crosstown trade with the Cubs.

“I definitely would’ve said I was a little bit nervous,” Cease said. “But being able to get big league guys out and see that I can do it and then start those games, it made me feel that I was closer.

“I think the most valuable thing about that was seeing that I could do it. It gives me that much more motivation to keep working on my craft and get up there and be consistent with it.”

Cease is still pitching at the Class A level, so it might be a while before he’s pitching in the majors. But he seems to have as good a shot as anyone of competing for a spot in the White Sox crowded rotation of the future. He’s got stiff competition, obviously, with the likes of Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning, Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez all pitching at higher levels of the system, including the major leagues.

But if Cease can keep pitching like he has been, he’ll keep his name in the discussion.

ESPN.com ranks White Sox MLB's worst rotation

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USA TODAY

ESPN.com ranks White Sox MLB's worst rotation

On Wednesday morning, ESPN.com released their rankings of all 30 MLB team's starting rotations. The rankings were a nod to the current structure of the rotation, as well as how they were likely to perform in the future. And that is why the Chicago White Sox being ranked dead last in the league is somewhat alarming. 

Overall, the White Sox rotation is 28th in WHIP and 29th in strikeouts. 

Lucas Giolito is currently the team leader in wins with four, but his ERA sits at an unsightly 7.19. James Shields has been decent in spurts, but a general lack of run support has limited his effectiveness. Carlos Rodon has been a mixed bag since returning, but was able to reach the seventh inning in his last start. This is encouraging considering that he hadn't made it that far in any of his previous three starts. And Reynaldo Lopez continues to rack up quality starts—much like Shields—but has two wins to show for it. 

Veteran players like closing pitcher Joakim Soria and Shields are sure to be hot names on the trade market, and that could go a long way towards bringing in additional prospects to build up the White Sox farm system, and lead to a much improved rotation in the future.

So the White Sox obviously deserve to be ranked lowly until they can groom their minor league starter prospects into MLB-ready staff members, something that looks like it could take longer than originally expected. Flame-throwing top prospect Michael Kopech is still amassing high strikeouts numbers, but he is walking over six batters per outing, showing an obvious issue with control. 

White Sox fans can take their mind off of ESPN ranking the team's rotation 30th in the league by turning their attention to Eloy Jimenez. He has been absolutely crushing it in Double-A Birmingham, and will likely be making his debut with the Triple-A Charlotte Knights on Saturday. That game will be live on NBC Sports Chicago. So sit back, relax and look forward to the future, wherever it may take White Sox faithful. 

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 2

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 2

In Part 2 of "Ask Us Anything" we answer the following questions: Who will be the biggest free agent the White Sox sign this off-season? What are the chances they trade Avi Garcia before the deadline? What's your assessment so far of Luis Robert?  Who's on your all-time busted prospect list? Is Omar Vizquel the next White Sox manager? Would the 1994 White Sox have won the World Series if there wasn't a strike?  What's the long term plan at third base? These questions and many more on this edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast.

If you missed Part 1 of 'Ask Us Anything', you can listen to the full episode here 

Listen to the full Part 2 of 'Ask Us Anything' at this link or in the embedded player below: