Prospect-laden Kannapolis eager for playoffs

Loaded squad will press on despite losing Cease to shoulder fatigue

Prospect-laden Kannapolis eager for playoffs

CHICAGO -- The first bit of news involving Class A Kannapolis and its South Atlantic League playoff push beginning Wednesday night wasn't exactly positive.

Dylan Cease, acquired with outfielder Eloy Jimenez from the Cubs as part of the Jose Quintana deal and ranked No. 64 overall by MLBPipeline.com, was scratched from his Game 1 start against Greensboro due to right shoulder fatigue. Cease will not pitch in the playoffs, but the White Sox call the move precautionary, with Cease still scheduled to take part in instructional-league action in Glendale, Ariz.

Even one pitcher down, the first-half champs in the Northern Division remain confident.

Top Prospects: Cease, CWS

"Anytime as a manager you can be here in September and play extra games, with a playoff atmosphere, it's a good benefit for everybody," Kannapolis first-year manager Justin Jirschele said. "We're looking to have some fun."

White Sox top 30 prospects

"It honestly means a lot," said outfielder Blake Rutherford of the playoff appearance. "Anytime you're on a team, it's your goal to win a championship. I was able to get traded to a team that already won the first half and has the opportunity to win a championship. It's a special experience, and I look forward to it."

Rutherford, the No. 44 prospect overall per MLBPipeline, hit .213 over 30 games with the Intimidators after being traded by the Yankees as part of the David Robertson/Todd Frazier/Tommy Kahnle deal. Gavin Sheets, the team's second-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, hit .266 with three homers and 25 RBIs over 52 games with Kannapolis.

They will be joined by Jake Burger, the White Sox top pick in the '17 Draft, along with Evan Skoug and Tyler Johnson as players in pursuit of postseason glory.

Top Prospects: Burger, CWS

Sheets fell short of the '17 College World Series when his Wake Forest team lost in the Super Regionals, and he appreciates the second chance.

"It's great to have the opportunity to play in the Super Regionals and then come and have an opportunity to play for a team that already knows they're going to playoffs," Sheets said. "That's why you play the game, and I'm excited to go to the playoffs."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.