The Tigers’ No. 1 overall pick Casey Mize made his much-anticipated professional debut on Wednesday in the Gulf Coast League.
From yesterday: #Tigers 2018 first-round pick Casey Mize made his professional debut with the GCL Tigers West: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Mize will start for High-A Lakeland on July 31 working 3-4 innings, per the team.#WarEagle
— emilycwaldon (@EmilyCWaldon) July 27, 2018
Mize was a no-brainer for the Tigers with the first selection in the 2018 MLB Draft last month as he was the most polished pitcher at the collegiate level in terms of control and overall stuff. It is ultimately why the club signed him to a record-setting $7.5 million and why he has soared to the top spot among the team’s top prospects.
MLB Pipeline has been updating its lists of top 30 prospects for all 30 clubs in Major League Baseball. Mize, who many expect to move swiftly through the minors, ranks 20th overall and is one of now five top-100 overall prospects for the Tigers in the sport. He joins fellow pitching prospects, Franklin Perez (No. 52 overall), Matt Manning (No. 59), Alex Faedo (No. 70), and Beau Burrows (No. 96).
Mize is also one of four 2018 draft picks for the Tigers to find themselves in the recently-revised list of prospects. Second-round selection Parker Meadows, who is playing down in the GCL along with Mize, finds himself at No. 7 in the system. Third-round pick and former University of Texas second baseman Kody Clemens, who has played in 23 games at Class-A West Michigan since signing, is pegged at No. 14. And 18-year-old Kingston Liniak, whom the Tigers selected in the fourth round and has a handful of games under his belt in the GCL, ranks No. 21 in the system.
Aside from the handful of those newcomers, the updated list of prospects for the Tigers contains a vast majority of holdovers from the preseason list. But there have been some names whos stock has risen, while others’ have plummeted.
Making the biggest jump from preseason to now is outfielder Jacob Robson, who entered the year as the Tigers’ No. 29 farmhand but now sits at No. 15. The 23-year-old and a former eighth-round pick in 2016 tore it up at Double-A Erie before recently earning his third mid-season promotion in as many seasons since joining the organization back in 2016. His red-hot bat found him as a focal point in our latest “Future Tigers” report on the team’s prospects. Robson in 22 games at Triple-A Toledo has a .914 OPS and carries a .852 mark on the season between Toledo and Erie.
Other notable names climbing up the ranks include:
- Matt Hall, LHP (No. 28 –> No. 20): Matt Hall has been a very steady and under-reported pitcher in his now four minor league seasons, compiling a 2.45 ERA in 89 games (64 starts). Hall started this year as a full-time reliever at Erie before being slotted back in the SeaWolves’ rotation. He dominated in both roles and, like Robson, earned a recent call-up to Triple-A.
- Sergio Alcantára, SS (No. 25 –> No. 18): Sergio Alcantára has enjoyed a fine first full season in the Tigers’ system since joining them midway in 2017 from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the J.D. Martinez swap. Not hitting for much power (actually his .355 slugging would be a single-season career-high for him), but Alcantára is hitting a solid .290 and held down the fort at shortstop for the SeaWolves.
Conversely, there are always some players who tumble when new rankings come out. Without question, the two biggest dropoffs are a pair of outfielders in Mike Gerber (No. 10 –> No. 25) and Derek Hill (No. 11 –> No. 26).
Gerber has endured by far his worst season offensively, posting a career-low .217/.279/.415 slash line in 65 games for the Mud Hens. In fact, the only real bright spot in Gerber’s play at the dish is his .198 isolated power, slightly above his career average in that department. Still, with his struggles this year and guys like Daz Cameron and the aforementioned Jacob Robson rising, Gerber could be fading in the pecking order of outfield prospects for the Tigers.
As for Derek Hill, the Tigers’ former first-round pick in 2014 has struggled to gain any sort of consistency at the plate that would warrant an improvement in his stock as a prospect. Hill has battled several injuries in his pro career and missed significant time again in 2018. He registered career-highs in both on-base (.346) and slugging (.379) percentages last season but his entire slash line has dropped this year while strikeout numbers have risen. While opportunities have been limited, Hill has been unable to take advantage, opening the door for guys like Robson and Cameron.
Here is a complete list of the Tigers’ newest top 30 prospects (previous ranking) [MLB overall rank]:
- Casey Mize, RHP (NR) 
- Franklin Perez, RHP (1) 
- Matt Manning, RHP (2) 
- Alex Faedo, RHP (3) 
- Beau Burrows, RHP (4) 
- Christin Stewart, OF (6)
- Parker Meadows, OF (NR)
- Daz Cameron, OF (5)
- Kyle Funkhouser, RHP (8)
- Jake Rogers, C (7)
- Isaac Paredes, SS/2B (9)
- Gregory Soto, LHP (12)
- Dawel Lugo, 2B/3B (15)
- Kody Clemens, 2B (NR)
- Jacob Robson, OF (29)
- Jose Azocar, OF (22)
- Reynaldo Rivera, 1B (20)
- Sergio Alcantára, SS (25)
- Bryan Garcia, RHP (23)
- Matt Hall, LHP (28)
- Tyler Alexander, LHP (13)
- Kingston Liniak, OF (NR)
- Sandy Baez, RHP (17)
- Joey Morgan, C (19)
- Mike Gerber, OF (10)
- Derek Hill, OF (11)
- Troy Montgomery, OF (26)
- Jason Foley, RHP (24)
- Alvaro Gonzalez, SS (30)
- Spencer Turnbull, RHP (NR)