With the White Sox season over, we're looking back on the top 10 moments of the club's minor league season. We'll unveil one per day for 10 days, showcasing each moment in chronological order.
The moment: Dylan Cease is named MLB Pipeline Pitcher of the Year, Sept. 6
Cease had a dominant 2018 between two levels, Single-A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham. MLB Pipeline gave him the honor as the top pitcher in the minors this year, capping off his standout season with an award against tough competition.
Cease's season: The fact that Cease was (and still is) the other prospect the White Sox received in the Jose Quintana trade shows just how good Eloy Jimenez has been. That said, Cease is building quite a resume.
The Cubs drafted him in the sixth round in 2014 knowing he would need Tommy John surgery. He showed strikeout stuff right away, but struggled with his control. Cease has shown improvement in his command with the White Sox.
Cease piled up 82 strikeouts against 28 walks in 71 2/3 innings with Winston-Salem this year. That marked the best walk rate of his minor-league career and helped earn him a promotion to Birmingham.
Once there, Cease gave up five runs in his Double-A debut and then gave up five earned runs combined in his final nine starts of 2018. Cease only allowed more than one run once the rest of the way (when he gave up three runs in five innings). His overall numbers with the Barons were impressive enough, but he had a 0.94 ERA over his final nine starts.
Cease struck out 78 against 22 walks in 52 1/3 innings while allowing a paltry .168 batting average in Double-A. The walks creeped up a bit again so there's still some work to do on that front, but Cease's swing-and-miss stuff makes him a high-profile pitching prospect.
The fact that Cease has done all this after going through TJS should give White Sox fans confidence that Michael Kopech could do the same after his surgery, even if it will require time and patience. The White Sox remained conservative with Cease, shutting him down a week before the end of the season to manage his workload. Cease has gone from 24 innings to 44 2/3 to 93 1/3 to 124 innings in his four years in the minors.
He could start 2019 in Triple-A Charlotte and be in the majors sometime in the second half of the season if all goes well. Entering 2018, there had been some talk of Cease moving to the bullpen in the majors, but his dominant 2018 has penciled him into any future White Sox rotations.