Casey Mize has officially changed his Tiger stripes from Auburn's to Detroit's.
The Tigers have signed the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 Draft, the organization announced Monday. Mize and the Tigers agreed to a $7.5 million signing bonus, according to MLB.com's Jim Callis. That puts him in a tie for the second-highest bonus ever given to a Draft pick with Stephen Strasburg (2009) and Bubba Starling (2011) and behind Gerrit Cole's $8 million in 2011. The slot bonus for the top overall pick was $8,096,300.
"It's such an honor to be the first overall pick and join a great organization like the Tigers," Mize said during a press conference at Comerica Park announcing the deal. "I'm really appreciative of them considering [me] the best player in the Draft and taking me with the first selection. For it to be official, it really feels great."
The 21-year-old right-hander, who was not drafted when he was first eligible in 2015, was widely considered the top overall talent in the 2018 Draft after three stellar seasons in the SEC. This season, he is a Golden Spikes Award finalist after posting a 3.30 ERA and 0.87 WHIP over 114 2/3 innings as a junior. His 156 strikeouts ranked second in the nation while his 9.8 K/BB ratio placed fifth among qualified Division I pitchers.
Mize has the stuff to back up the stellar results as well. His splitter is considered his best pitch, having been given by MLB.com a 70 grade on the 20-80 scale because of its killer movement. His fastball and slider are also considered plus pitches, and he makes the whole set work incredibly well because of his special control, as his K/BB ratio indicated.
Because of that arsenal and track record in the college ranks, the 6-foot-3 hurler could rise quickly through the Minors on his way to the Motor City. He'll likely be the top prospect in a system loaded with right-handed pitching prospects like Franklin Perez, Matt Manning, Alex Faedo, Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser. The Tigers said Monday that they're still forming a plan for how to handle Mize this summer, but it doesn't seem likely that he'll be handled in the same way as 2017 first-rounder Faedo, who didn't pitch at all in the Minors in his first pro summer because of a heavy workload at the University of Florida.
But before the focus can turn to how soon Mize will reach the Majors, he had to put pen to paper Monday. Now, the professional work begins for one of the game's most promising pitching prospects.
"Just like when I came to college, there's going to be an adjustment period," Mize said at the press conference. "I think it's going to be the same in professional baseball. I'm going to have to learn some new things and going to have to adjust to those and however quickly that happens is however quickly I'm going to move through the ranks. There are going to be some adjustments and trying times, but hopefully, I continue to work hard and work on those and getting here will be the ultimate goal."