Dylan Cease wows Jonathan Lucroy with ‘devastating' stuff


Rave reviews for Dylan Cease's stuff are nothing new.

Cease's stuff is frequently referred to as "nasty," as big a part of why the hopes are so high for the White Sox right-hander as anything.

But a new set of eyes in White Sox camp is joining the chorus and weighing in on Cease, who could be one of the biggest keys to the team meeting its championship-level expectations in 2021.

RELATED: Kopech's role for Sox could change over course of 2021

"I caught Cease today," catcher Jonathan Lucroy said Friday. "I knew he had good stuff, but his stuff is really good, really good. A very, very devastating arsenal of weapons that that guy has."

Lucroy is one of several backstops competing for the job of backing up Yasmani Grandal, and his decade-long history working with big league pitching staffs could improve his chances of winning that position battle. It also adds some heft to his evaluation of Cease.

"The secret with him is we just have to get him in the (strike) zone," Lucroy said, not breaking any news to folks who watched Cease struggle with walks in 2020. "I worked with him back there today. He threw really well. We had three innings (in live batting practice). He can really be a big part of this, as well. He has devastating stuff. But again, he’s a young guy, and that mental side is going to be a big part of that with him."

Whether he wins the job or not, Lucroy has made it a mission to help improve the White Sox pitching staff, and that was clear in his comments about not only Cease but the team's young starters as a whole.

New pitching coach Ethan Katz is expected to play the biggest role in getting young arms like Cease, Michael Kopech and others to reach their sky-high potential, which could help turn the White Sox rotation into a championship-caliber group. But Lucroy, should he stick around past the end of spring training, could be of some assistance, as well.

"The pitching mound is a very lonely place," Lucroy said. "And we all know there are expectations for this team, and younger pitchers can get emotional and they can get worked up, they can get a lot of anxiety. And I try to do my best to not only attack the game-calling and physical part of the game, but also the mental side.

"If they weren’t physically capable, they wouldn’t be here. We have to do our best with these guys mentally. As a catcher, I believe it’s one of my biggest priorities is getting these guys mentally prepared and keeping them mentally locked in and keeping them mentally ready to execute every pitch as best they can and stay within their ability. I’ve experienced it before. If we can do that on a consistent basis, we’ll be successful."

Lucroy has earned his own rave reviews from the pitchers he's caught so far in the first few days of the Cactus League schedule. Staff ace Lucas Giolito was very complimentary of how comfortable he was throwing to Lucroy, and the newly added Lance Lynn described a pitcher-catcher relationship where not much had to be said between the two to get on the same page.

That veteran knowhow, that easy transition and, in certain cases, that familiarity could be the leg up Lucroy needs to win the backup-catcher job. After all, Tony La Russa listed handling the pitching staff as the No. 1 thing he's looking for in this roster battle.

But for all the compliments heading Lucroy's way from the pitching staff, he's giving them right back.

"They are both great," Lucroy said of Giolito and Lynn. "You've got to have arms like that on your staff if you want to be successful. They are both consummate professionals and they both know what they are doing, and it really is a privilege being able to work with them and be able to get back there and catch them.

"White Sox fans, you have a lot to look forward to. This is a really good pitching staff. Not only those two guys, but there are some other guys here that are special. I think this is going to be a special year."

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