Dylan Cease has shown improvement in each of his three starts for Class A South Bend this season. On Wednesday, the Cubs' No. 3 prospect was untouchable as he fired a career-high six innings without allowing a hit against Great Lakes.
Cease, ranked 71st on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced in the outing before departing after 92 pitches (55 strikes). He walked three and struck out seven, including five swinging strikeouts.
"I was more excited about going six than I was about going six hitless," Cease told MiLB.com. "I was just excited I was able to get that last guy to swing at a breaking ball. I knew I was running low on pitches, so to make it through six was really exciting."
The Cubs signed Cease for $1.5 million as a sixth-round pick in 2014, knowing that the young righty would require Tommy John surgery. He was eased into action in late 2015 and then impressed with the move up to the Class A Short Season level last year, when he posted a 2.22 ERA with 66 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings (12 starts) for Eugene.
Cease's scoreless performance on Wednesday was his second in as many starts for South Bend, and he's now tossed 13 scoreless frames dating back to his season debut on April 8.
Overall, the 21-year-old owns a 0.60 ERA and has allowed just six hits through his first 15 frames, with 22 strikeouts and eight walks.
South Bend went on to lose its combined no-hit bid in the top of the seventh, though it would be the only knock allowed by the club's staff. Right-hander Matt Swarmer pitched well in relief of Cease, striking out four over three innings, as the Cubs shut out the Loons, 3-0.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.