Cease returns to mound after Tommy John

11 months after surgery, Cubs No. 18 prospect looks to regain his mechanics

Cease returns to mound after Tommy John

TEMPE, Ariz. -- No draft pick is a sure thing, but when the Cubs selected Dylan Cease in the sixth round of the 2014 Draft they were taking a bigger gamble than most.

"I'm really grateful," Cease, the Cubs No. 18 prospect, said. "It was a big chance on their part. I'm very happy that they did."

When the Cubs selected the 6-foot-1, 175 pound right-hander it was known that he would need Tommy John surgery, which he had about a month after the Draft.

However, the Cubs were hopeful that once Cease recovered from the surgery, his mid-90's fastball would return and he would start to develop the talent they saw from him when he was pitching at Milton High School in Georgia.

It's still early in the process, but so far the gamble seems to be paying off.

"My shoulder feels the strongest it's ever felt, my elbow feels as good as it's ever felt," Cease said. "I'm 11 months out right now, they say 15 months is when you're back to normal, but nothing's holding me back right now."

Cease has pitched just 2 2/3 innings in the Arizona Rookie League so far this season, but his talent is evident.

"He's a nice young arm, he's got a bright future," Ron Villone, pitching coach of the Arizona League Cubs, said. "There's a lot of good things to say and he's got a lot of work to do because he's young and this is his first time playing again in over a year. It's good to see him out there competing him again."

While Cease is happy to be back on the mound, he was able to take some positives away from sitting out a year.

"It was mentally more challenging than anything I've ever done -- just learning how to be patient," Cease said. "I think it's definitely made me better."

Cease said the velocity on his fastball has returned, but he still needs to regain some of his mechanics.

"It's back where it was before so can't complain, just have to learn how to control it now," Cease said.

The control will come with time, but for now the Cubs organization is happy that Cease is healthy and pitching again.

"Knowing that he's healthy and capable and ready to play and he's pitching again, we're happy to have him because he's a special talent," Villone said.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.