Yesterday, several young players realized a dream: they were drafted by an MLB team. Some ultimately will not sign but for most, this is the first step as they begin their playing careers as professional baseball players.
Most external baseball talent evaluators profiled Casey Mize as the top talent available during this year’s MLB draft. The Detroit Tigers agreed and selected Mize with the first overall pick. So, who is Casey Mize, and what can the Detroit Tigers expect from their new top prospect?
A Collegiate Ascent
Casey Mize played high school baseball at Springville High School, in the Birmingham area, before attending Auburn University. At Springville, he pitched well, but he did not stand from other pitching prospects. He earned a Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American Southeast- All-Region 2nd Team. He only ranked as the 300th best player in the nation and 108th best pitcher in the nation. Despite his somewhat anonymous national status, he remained one of the best products available from Alabama. He was considered the best pitcher available in the state and ranked fourth overall among other recruits from Alabama.
Mize, however, quickly developed while at Auburn. He posted a respectable 3.52 ERA with 59 strikeouts and only 18 walks over 69 innings his freshman year. He then had a good summer pitching in Cape Cod. When pitching for Auburn his sophomore year, he posted a 2.04 ERA while striking out 109 hitters and walking only nine in 83.2 innings of work. He had an exceptional 12.09-1 K/BB ratio with an 11.73 K/9 and a 0.97 BB/9. After spending the next summer pitching for Team USA’s collegiate team, he had an even better junior season in 2018. While he has a 2.95 ERA, he has also posted a scarcely believable 151 strikeouts, and 12 walks over 109.2 innings pitched. Yes, he has an even better 12.58 strikeouts per walk, 12.44 K/9, and a 0.99 BB/9. With such an exceptional season, he has helped Auburn make its first super regional in 19 years.
A Great Arm Talent
Mize has a great mix of command, control, and movement with his stuff. He already has four pitches, and all usually grade out as plus pitches. His four-seam fastball sits at around 93-95 mph, though it can touch 97. He also added a cutter in 2018, and he has already turned that into a reliable fastball. He also has an exceptional splitter, which sits between 87-89 mph, that he uses as an out pitch. He also has a curve that sits in the low 80s.
While Casey Mize has dominated hitters at the college level, the Tigers’ number one pick has some flaws. First, he has an extensive injury history. Mize had shoulder issues in high school, and during both his sophomore spring and summer seasons, he experienced forearm tightness and his arm issues do appear to stem from some poor mechanics. He does not finish his wind-up. Rather than following through the pitch, Mize stays nearly standing straight up after he releases the ball.
Mize also does not create counter rotation when he gets to his power position. Instead of creating separation between his shoulder and hips, his hips stay closed while his shoulder leaks open. These two mechanical problems mean he has to rely heavily on his arm for both command and velocity. So far, he has had both, but if he does not improve his mechanics, he might more than likely prove unable to continue providing command and velocity.
With his performance and pitching repertoire, he already looks like a starter who could pitch in the majors by the end of the 2019 season. He has the stuff and the command of a major league pitcher, but to fulfill his 55 future value for the Tigers, he will need to make some adjustments and not fully rely on his arm talent.