Player: Dylan Cease
Drafted by: Chicago Cubs
DOB: 12/28/1995 (Age: 18)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 180 lbs
School: Milton (Georgia) High School
College Commitment: Vanderbilt
Dylan Cease entered the spring as likely Day 1 draft pick after an impressive showing last summer on the showcase circuit, and it was widely believed that he’d eventually force his way into the top half of the first round with his outstanding combination of athleticism and arm strength. However, that wouldn’t be the case, as Cease suffered a partial tear of the UCL in his right elbow in late March that ultimately sidelined him for the remainder of his highly anticipated senior season.
Though he was able to avoid Tommy John surgery—opting for Platelet-Rich Therapy instead—the nature of his injury, especially at this stage in his career, is a legitimate concern moving forward, not to mention an enormous risk for any club that’s still considering whether or not to lure him away from his strong Vanderbilt commitment with an above-slot bonus.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
The 6’2”, 180-pounder is an excellent athlete with a projectable frame; complicated delivery depends on timing; employs a high leg raise and a brief pause at height of delivery before uncoiling with his core while gliding toward the plate; generates big trunk and hip rotation and therefore power, but it comes at the cost of his control.
The right-hander works from a three-quarters slot with lightning-quick arm speed; has a tendency to rush forward after pause in delivery, which in turn causes him to rip open with his front side with his arm dragging behind; arm action is otherwise clean and allows him to create excellent plane; unfair to speculate as to how his current elbow injury (and treatment for said injury) will affect him moving forward.
Cease boats one of the best fastballs in the draft class, sitting in the mid-90s and bumping 97 while working on a consistent downhill plane; pitch has late life and features hard run to the arm side; maintains velocity deep into games.
Below-average offering at present will require considerable refinement to grade as average at maturity; thrown with velocity in the mid-70s but lacks consistently tight spin and biting action; tends to get underneath the pitch and release it toward the center of his body rather than in front; should be able to develop a consistent breaking ball if he goes to Vandy.
Currently his best and most consistent secondary pitch; potential to be a tick better than average in his prime; thrown with good speed in the low 80s with minimal movement; effective velocity differential; feel for the pitch is better than his use suggests.
Complicated, timing-oriented delivery impedes his overall control and forces him to rely on the quality of his stuff; shows the ability to pound the bottom of the strike zone with his entire arsenal, but doesn’t do it consistently since he struggles to stay on top of the ball; needs to make more fluid adjustments during games.
Cease’s command is currently well below average, though that also means he has plenty of room for improvement; commanding his fastball throughout strike zone will be crucial toward overall development; should allow his secondary offerings to play up even if they’re fringy; may take some time for him to evolve into a pitcher rather than thrower.
MLB Player Comparison: A.J. Burnett
Cease draws A.J. Burnett comparisons for his explosive delivery, electric fastball and subpar command, although his secondary stuff will never be as effective as the Phillies’ right-hander.
Projection: No. 3 starter
Major Leagues ETA: Late 2017
Chances of Signing: 35 percent
Cease is believed to have a strong commitment to Vanderbilt—as is so often the case with the Commodores’ recruits—and will likely need to be selected early in the first round (or be paid over slot in a later round) to consider signing. However, that scenario is looking less and less likely in the wake of his recent elbow injury.