Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

The Road to The Show™: Casey Mize

Top pick breezing through Tigers system with dominant arsenal
After Casey Mize threw a no-hitter with Auburn in 2018, he did it again in his Double-A debut with Erie. (Carlos Osorio/AP)
@AndrewAtBatt
June 29, 2020

Each week, MiLB.com profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps taken to reach the brink of the Major Leagues. Here's a look at Tigers right-hander Casey Mize. There's always plenty of hype, fanfare and superlatives that surround players when they're the No. 1 overall Draft pick. Casey Mize has

Each week, MiLB.com profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps taken to reach the brink of the Major Leagues. Here's a look at Tigers right-hander Casey Mize.

There's always plenty of hype, fanfare and superlatives that surround players when they're the No. 1 overall Draft pick.

Casey Mize has dealt with that and then some.

The hurler ranks as MLB Pipeline's No. 7 overall prospect and its top-right handed starter. Since his one-one overall selection at the 2018 Draft, Mize has raced through the Detroit system as its best prospect and is on the verge of stardom at the big league level.

2018 (Rookie-level GCL Tigers, Class A Advanced Lakeland)

A dominating stint at Auburn University propelled Mize to the top of the Draft, where he was selected ahead of current Top-100 prospects Joey Bart and Alec Bohm. His three-pitch mix, which includes a plus-plus splitter and a fastball and slider that garnered 60 grades on the 20-80 scale, Mize signed a $7.5 million deal to go from the SEC Tigers to the MLB version.

By logging more than 114 innings with Auburn during the college season, he had his workload limited during his first cup of coffee in a professional uniform and did not make his debut in the Gulf Coast League until July 26.

Mize made a quick impression in his Minor League debut by striking out four over two scoreless innings against the Yankees. It turned out to be his only outing at the complex level as he skipped Class A to join the Florida State League on July 31. His outing that day went without a hitch against Dunedin, which managed one hit in three scoreless innings.

Through August, he made three more starts with some ups and downs in limited action, finishing his time in the FSL with a 4.63 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 11 2/3 innings.

2019 (Class A Advanced Lakeland, Double-A Erie)

Back in Lakeland to start his first full professional season, Mize got off to an impressive start. In five scoreless innings against Tampa, he gave up one hit and fanned eight. It set the tone for a dominant -- albeit brief -- return to the FSL.

Through four starts with the Flying Tigers, Mize allowed just one run and seven hits and did not walk a batter over 26 frames. He had increased his workload incrementally each start, tossing eight shutout frames against St. Lucie during his April 23 outing By the end of the month, it was apparent the Alabama native was ready to move up, and he joined the Eastern League ranks on April 25. Four days later, he entered the history books with his best effort to date.

His Double-A debut went without a hitch -- literally. Mize worked around a hit batter and a walk, fanning seven Altoona hitters, en route to a no-hitter and the first complete game (and so far only) of his career. He needed only 98 pitches to complete the feat, throwing 70 strikes. One of the most memorable moments of the 2019 season, he earned the MiLB.com Performance of the Year award.

Even with such an outing under his belt, Mize didn't feel he had his best stuff on the mound that night. It was his second no-hitter in as many years after blanking Northeastern University in March 2018.

"I think after, I said my fastball command was horrible," he told MiLB.com last December. "I don't think it was horrible, but I do think I had a point where it was not great. It was not what I expect out of myself. I had my other pitches, which stepped up big. I was able to throw my cutter, splitter and slider for strikes, but my fastball command wasn't horrible -- like I might have said -- but it definitely wasn't as good as I like it to be."

Mize kept that momentum rolling through the middle of June, maintaining a 1.21 ERA and 0.88 WHIP through nine starts with Erie. Unsurprisingly, he was an easy choice to pitch in the Eastern League All-Star.

But just as his season was in full stride, he hit a snag during his June 13 start, exiting after 2 1/3 frames. He was diagnosed with right shoulder inflammation and ended up missing nearly a month, returning on July 10 with Lakeland. After another start for the Flying Tigers, he rejoined Erie on July 19.

The second half of the season didn't produce the same level of success for Mize, who had a 7.09 ERA and 1.54 WHIP over his final 26 2/3 innings. On Aug. 21, the Tigers decided to shut him down.

Despite the bumpy homestretch, the 23-year-old finished with a 2.55 ERA and 106 strikeouts across 109 1/3 innings between the two levels.

On the heels of that first full season, Mize joined the Tigers at big league Spring Training for the second straight year to start 2020. He threw four innings, including two hitless frames on March 5, and notched six strikeouts before the coronavirus pandemic shut down baseball.

But as baseball is slated to resume in July, Mize could be one of the top prospects to make his Major League debut. The Detroit Free Press reported that Mize, along with Matt Manning and Tarik Skubal, is expected to be on the Tigers' taxi squad. With that in mind, if Detroit needs another pitcher during the 60-game regular season, Mize could be one of the first to join the club.

Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt.