The Detroit Tigers selected right-handed pitcher Casey Mize with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft on Monday. However, the Auburn hurler's pro debut will be delayed as he is still leading his current pack of Tigers in the college baseball tournament.
Mize and Auburn this past weekend were one of 16 teams to make through to the Super Regionals in the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament. The Tigers were absolutely dominant in the Raleigh Regional, which was hosted by No. 16 overall seed N.C. State, sweeping through the opposition without a loss and outscoring their opponents 40-12 in the three games.
Mize pitched in the Tigers' second of three games of the regional against Army, which was rare in itself considering he was the “Friday” starter for Auburn this year, but I digress, it worked out. He tossed seven innings of one-run ball against the Black Knights, striking out 11 and walking just two.
That outing was essentially a microcosm of what the junior has done this season. Mize is now 16 starts this year logged an ERA just a notch under 3.00 — in what is regarded as the best level of collegiate baseball in the SEC, mind you — while posting an absurd K/BB ratio of nearly 13-to-1. Opposing batters this year have remained on the interstate, they are hitting just .195 off Mize in 2018.
He also has a no-hitter under his belt this season, a 13-strikeout performance way back on March 9 at home against Northeastern.
To sum it up, Mize has had near-season-long expectations and hype of being the consensus top pick in the draft, in a field that maybe lacked some in terms of clear-cut choices to be 1-1. But it was clear enough for Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila and his brass to select Mize with their all-important No. 1 selection on Monday.
“We felt he was the best player in the draft this year, one who would give us the best impact,” Avila said. “If you look at his overall numbers in college, particularly this year, they are outstanding. They are really off the charts. His repertoire is excellent… He’s got a good idea of how to pitch. Obviously, the strikeout ratio to walks is off the charts. You put all of that together and you have an advanced pitching prospect.”
Now that Detroit has added more pitching prowess to their farm system, when is it that Tigers fans can see Mize begin his professional career? Well, it is all going to depend on how far the Tigers from Auburn go in the tournament.
Auburn is back in the Super Regionals for the first time since 1999; their 42 wins currently are the most since their 2010 campaign. Mize is hoping to send the Tigers to their fifth College World Series ever, first since '97, and perhaps the school's first baseball championship. It is the second straight year that the Detroit Tigers' first-round pick is leading his respective college club to a run in the tournament. In 2017, they selected Florida hurler Alex Faedo with the 18th overall pick and Faedo was a key cog in leading the Gators to their first national title.
Now it is Mize, who ironically will face SEC rival and No. 1 overall seed Florida in Gainesville this weekend with a spot in the College World Series on the line. Here is the schedule for that Super Regional:
- Game 1 | Sat, June 9 @ Noon ET on ESPN
- Game 2 | Sun, June 10 @ Noon ET on ESPN
- Game 3 | Mon, June 11 @ 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN*^
[*Game time and network subject to change | ^if necessary]
You can click here to view the entire schedule for the Round of 16 this upcoming weekend. We presume that Mize will toe the slab in Game 1, though they tweaked their rotation alignment for the regional round so we will see. Mize has already pitched once against Florida this season, he took the loss back on April 26 when he allowed three runs on four hits over seven innings of work.
Mize is one of multiple 2018 draft picks for the Tigers whose respective teams are still alive in the postseason:
- 2B Kody Clemens (2nd Round) – Texas, vs. Tennessee Tech
- LHP Kacey Murphy (11th Round) – Arkansas, vs. South Carolina
- C Chris Proctor (13th Round) & RHP Ethan DeCaster (18th Round) – Duke, at Texas Tech
- RHP Maddux Conger (22nd Round) – Vanderbilt, vs. Mississippi State
It is only one start but, unless you are a diehard and have followed Mize and Auburn throughout the season, it is a good opportunity for Detroit Tigers fans to watch the club's newest prized possession on a national stage.