Tigers Amateur Scouting Director: Mize Has "MLB Stuff Right Now"

There’s a precedent for Mize debuting this season.

Will Burchfield
June 05, 2018 - 4:29 am

© Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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Miguel Cabrera was reflecting Monday night on the way Tigers fans used to invade opposing ballparks, and how maybe, just maybe, this year’s team can bring those days back. He’s hopeful the Tigers' newest addition – first overall draft pick Casey Mize – can help.

“We got a good pick today. Hopefully everything goes well with him, no injuries, he can be healthy, and I don’t know when – maybe this year – we get (to see) this guy,” Cabrera said.

Cabrera didn’t mention Mize by name, but he was quick to cite the right-hander’s filthy splitter and mid-90’s fastball. It was clear the Big Man had done his homework. When it was suggested that the Tigers bring Mize to the majors as soon as possible, Cabrera smiled and said, “Why not!?”

Scott Pleis, the Tigers director of amateur scouting, in one respect would agree. Mize has the repertoire to pitch in the big leagues today. He’s sporting a 2.95 ERA, a 0.81 WHIP and a ridiculous 12.58 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his junior season at Auburn.

At the same time, the Tigers are wary of stunting the 21-year-old’s development.

“He’s got MLB stuff right now," Pleis said. "He is a very talented person. But we are not going to rush his development. We are going to take our time with Casey. He has thrown a lot of innings this year, and he still has some of his season left. We wish him luck in that.”

Auburn is currently in the NCAA Tournament. In Mize’s most recent start, a win over NC State in the super regionals on Saturday, he allowed one run over seven innings and struck out 11.

“We are not going to rush anything,” Pleis reiterated. “We are going to develop him the way we would all of these other players and get him in the system, take care of him and prepare him the best we can to be the best he can be.”

Told about Cabrera’s comments and asked about the possibility of debuting this season, Mize said he’s not necessarily concerned with the length of his path to the big leagues.    

“I would say, I’d like to get there as efficiently as possible. What I mean by that is not as quickly as possible, but I think whenever I am ready. Whenever Scott and Al [Avila] and whenever people think I am ready, I hope it would be as efficient as possible,” said Mize.

As Cabrera referenced himself, Mize is known for his splitter. He’s also renowned for his command. In 109 2/3 innings this season he’s struck out 151 batters and walked just 12. In Pleis’ mind, Mize has four plus pitches. What makes him so advanced for his age is his ability to pinpoint each one.

“We see guys with power. We see guys that might have a good breaking ball, a good slider, a good changeup or something like that. But you very rarely see a guy with power up to 97 (mph) with a plus-split, a plus-slider, a plus-cutter and with plus-plus command,” said Pleis.

Mize’s innings count this season is by far a career high. Some rest would do him well when the campaign ends. Remember, the Tigers shut down last year’s first-round pick Alex Faedo for the rest of the season after he led Florida to a national championship.

Mize is also just a year removed from being shut down himself with a flexor strain in his forearm, so the Tigers may opt to be extra cautious with their most valuable new asset. Pleis, though, said Mize passed all of the Tigers’ medical evaluations and his health “was not a concern” ahead of the draft.

There’s a precedent for Mize debuting this season. Andrew Miller was drafted sixth overall by the Tigers in 2006 and took the mound for Detroit in September. Mize certainly has the stuff to follow the same route.

It’s just a question of whether the Tigers want him to.