MLBPipeline.com: You already pitched at Wrigley Field a year before you got drafted, as part of the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game. I remember you hitting 94 mph with your fastball. What do you remember about that day?
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Cease: I remember leaving that game and talking to my dad. We thought it would be really cool if I would play there again someday. I did all right in the game. My curveball wasn't very sharp.
MLBPipeline.com: After you hurt your elbow, what did you think was going to happen with the Draft?
Cease: When I got hurt, I didn't worry about where I was going to go in the Draft. I kind of focused on being in high school. I definitely thought I would have gone to Vanderbilt, but I was prepared to sign as well if someone met my amount. After the first day, I didn't really hear anything and didn't know much. The Cubs called me in the third round and told me they were going to take me in the sixth round. I didn't hear from a lot of teams -- the Astros maybe. I think the money was a concern with a lot of clubs.
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MLBPipeline.com: How confident were you that you'd be able to make a full recovery from Tommy John surgery, and how good do you feel about where your stuff is now?
Cease: I didn't think it was 100 percent that I'd come back, so it made me work harder. It was a solid year before I really got back to where I was. By my first game back, I had put on 25-30 pounds and cleaned up my mechanics. I was thinking I might throw in the low 90s, and when I heard it was 98, 99 mph, it made me excited. It made me feel the 10 months of rehab was worth it.
MLBPipeline.com: You haven't pitched a ton yet in pro ball, but how much better do you think you've gotten since joining the Cubs?
Cease: I have better mechanics, my body moves more efficiently. I'm more flexible and stronger. I have intent with my pitches now instead of just throwing hard. I'm trying to be a pitcher. I can't even put it on a scale -- I'm so much better. I didn't feel like I was very consistent in high school with my curveball, and now every time I feel comfortable it's going to do what it's supposed to. Obviously, that's not going to happen every time. I didn't throw a changeup in high school and now I'm confident with it. I feel like I'm on the verge of really getting that locked down.
MLBPipeline.com: The Cubs have handled you with extreme care since you signed, limiting you to 68 2/3 innings in your first two pro seasons. Has it been difficult to deal with wanting to do more?
Cease: It hasn't been that tough. There's an intention behind everything, a reason for it. I've got to crawl before I walk, and it's given me time to learn my body and mechanics. I think I'm in a really good position to be the pitcher I can be. I'm learning to spot up my pitches and throw my offspeed stuff. I didn't really question any of it. I've trusted the Cubs. This year I'll be a real pitcher now. I'm very excited, ready to go.