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Cubs top pitching prospect Cease leaves game with an injury

Chicago Cubs pitching prospect Dylan Cease, a 21-year-old right-hander with Single-A South Bend, had to leave his start on Thursday evening after an injury that occurred while covering third base.

It has yet to be announced what, exactly, the nature of Cease’s injury is. The speculation from fans at the game is that it was his right ankle. But Cease texted Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that he was okay. He was drafted by the Cubs in the sixth round back in 2014 as an 18-year-old, although he certainly would’ve gone much higher in the draft had he been healthy. It was well-known at the time that Cease needed Tommy John Surgery on his pitching elbow.

But he was back on the mound in June of 2015, and he’s been excellent in small doses during his professional career. In 101 innings pitched over the last three seasons, Cease has a 2.32 ERA, 12.6 K/9, and 5.2 BB/9. He has frequently struggled with command, which is the biggest obstacle standing in the way of him developing into a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. Coming into 2017, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com rated him the No. 77 prospect in all of baseball.

In relief of Cease, the Cubs brought in 23-year-old, multi-inning reliever Matt Swarmer. The right-hander is in his second professional season after being selected in the 19th round of the 2016 MLB Draft, and has made six appearances with 21 innings pitched so far this year in South Bend. For his career, he has a 2.95 ERA and 10.2 K/9 in 39.2 innings pitched.

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