Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports
Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports

Candelario, Cease named Cubs minor league players of the month

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The Chicago Cubs today named Triple-A Iowa infielder Jeimer Candelario and Single-A South Bend right-handed pitcher Dylan Cease the organization's minor league player and pitcher of the month for April, respectively.

Candelario, 23, hit .306 (22-for-72) with 10 doubles, two triples, three home runs, 18 RBI, 14 walks, a .432 on-base percentage and a .625 slugging mark in 21 April contests for Iowa. He tied for the Pacific Coast League lead in doubles while his 15 extra-base hits ranked second. Candelario ranked fifth in the league in OPS (1.057), was sixth in RBI and walks (tied), seventh in slugging and eighth in on-base percentage. He had three five-RBI games, including consecutive contests, April 7-8 at Oklahoma City.

The switch-hitting Candelario is batting .333 (27-for-81) in 24 games for Iowa this season. He has 18 extra-base hits in his first 81 at-bats (12 doubles, two triples and four home runs) and has driven in 21 runs while scoring 17 times. Candelario has a 1.122 OPS thanks to a .443 on-base percentage and a .679 slugging percentage. He has played 19 games at third base and six at first base.

Signed as a non-drafted free agent by Chicago in September of 2010, Candelario made his major league debut with Chicago last season, appearing in five games from July 3-7. In 682 career minor league games, he has batted .272 (686-for-2,520) with 180 doubles, 18 triples, 60 homers and 382 RBI. A Southern League All-Star in 2016 for Double-A Tennessee, he was named to the World Team in the 2016 MLB All-Star Futures Game in San Diego, but did not play due to his promotion to Chicago.

Cease, 21, posted a 1.90 ERA (5 ER/23.2 IP) in five April starts for South Bend, allowing just one home run and 15 walks while striking out 37, good for an average of 14.1 strikeouts per 9.0 innings. He limited opponents to a .177 average (14-for-79), a .305 on-base percentage and a .278 slugging percentage. Cease allowed one or no runs with seven or more strikeouts in four of his five outings, and struck out a season-high 10 batters, April 29 at Fort Wayne.

Selected by the Cubs in the sixth round of the 2014 draft, Cease is 3-3 with a 2.24 ERA (23 ER/92.1 IP) in 28 career minor league games (25 starts). He has struck out 128 batters in 92.1 innings, good for an average of 12.5 strikeouts per 9.0 innings. He has walked 56, allowed just two home runs and surrendered just 5.2 hits per 9.0 innings. A 2016 Northwest League mid-season All-Star for Single-A Eugene, Cease entered 2017 ranked by Baseball America as the fourth-best prospect in the Cubs system.

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