Height/Weight: 6’3″ / 210
Previously Drafted: Never
Casey Mize wasn’t drafted as a prep out of Alabama in 2015, and there is an interesting backstory as to why. Mize attended Springville High School in Springville, Alabama. Matthew Stevens of the Montgomery Adviser writes that a “fluke injury” was the culprit. But the right-hander told the Associated Press that he wasn’t drafted out of high school because “he wasn’t good enough”. Mize said that he was under-sized, from a small town and didn’t understand how to pitch at the time. Scouts apparently disagree with that premise. A National League Area Scout told Stevens that, “I promise you it wasn’t because Casey wasn’t good enough. He threw 92-93 miles per hour in high school. Of course he was good enough to be drafted”. Mize injured his ankle running the bases early in his senior season while playing in high school. By the time he made it back, scouts had other assignments and he went undrafted.
Casey was a 2015 Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American Southeast player and All Region 2nd Team member. The publication also named him as the #2 pitcher in Alabama and #4 prospect in the state overall. Only two Alabama high schoolers ended up getting drafted in 2015. Mize was the #300 ranked player in the nation and was a Three Time All-Area Selection. He finished high school with a record of 19-2 after going 3-0 as a senior with 34 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.83. Not getting his name called in 2015 could almost be seen as a blessing in disguise at this point. Mize has attended his “dream school” for the last three years and is expected to be taken very early on Monday, June 4th.
Mize is having a ridiculous season in the Southeastern Conference and solidifying himself as the consensus top prospect in the upcoming draft class. In 2018, he has a 3.07 ERA in 102.2 innings pitched. He is holding opponents to a batting average of .197 and his WHIP is well under 1 on the year. He is posting an insanely productive strikeout to walk rate with 140 strikeouts on the season in comparison to only 10 walks. In 13 appearances as a Sophomore in 2017, the Springville product made 12 starts for the Tigers. He went 8-2 with a 2.04 ERA and struck out 109 batters while only walking 9 all season. He was also named a Rawlings 2nd Team All-American. The Alabama native also made 16 appearances on the mound as a Freshman in 2016. He went 2-5 with 1 save on the year. He did post a team best 3.52 ERA however and compiled 59 strikeouts in 69 innings while holding opponents to a .249 batting average. Mize did surrender 3 runs in a loss during the SEC tournament last week. Auburn is 39-21 and will play Northeastern (36-19) on Friday June 1st in round one of the NCAA Tournament at Doak Field in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Some Highlights courtesy of Fangraphs:
Mize vs Kentucky via 2080baseball.com:
News Highlights with Kyle Burger of WVTM:
Baseball America has Casey Mize listed as the #1 overall prospect in the 2018 draft class. The publication notes that he has a “deep talented repertoire that is made mostly of 60-grade or better offerings and exceptional control that allows for a staggering strikeout-to-walk ratio. Casey has a fastball that touches 97 mph with a 70-grade splitter. Baseball America states that Mize “locates the 86-89 mph splitter very well with powerful downward action”. Mize also possesses a slider that sits in the mid-to-upper 80’s. He does have two different slider variations that can be used as well. One of the offerings is more firm and used as an out pitch. The other slider is softer with more of a curveball look and is used as a get-me-over strike. If that’s not enough, the prospect outlet of record mentioned that the right-hander “added a plus cutter this spring” as well. Mize is said to have a “4-pitch mix” but he really has the ability to throw 6 variations with the differences in his slider and splitter. He has the ceiling of an ace and his plus-plus splitter is a large reason why. The only knock on Casey is his medical history. He was shutdown with forearm issues during the spring and summer of 2017 and had various ailments while in high school. He has been completely healthy this season to date.
In a similar fashion to Baseball America, the folks at mlbpipeline.com also list Casey Mize as the top prospect in the 2018 class. They call the right-hander the “prohibitive favorite for the #1 pick” due to having the best combination of raw stuff and control among college pitchers. The writers mention that Casey has “blossomed at Auburn after being raw and undrafted out of an Alabama high school. “The Tigers ace gets swing and misses with three different offerings and has an athletic frame with a clean delivery. Pipeline surmises that the best of his pitches is a mid-80’s splitter that “dives at the plate” and has been given a 70-grade. Mize sets up the splitter with a 60-grade fastball that sits in the 92-97 mph range. The publication also notes that he “commands the fastball exceptionally well despite its running life”. Mize also has a mid 80’s slider that has “taken a step forward this spring and has received consistent plus grades”. Scouts love the way the righty “competes on the mound” and he’s proven to be healthy this season. MLBP also notes the previous minor injury history.
ESPN draft and prospect analyst Keith Law also has Casey Mize ranked as the #1 player in the draft class. Law says that the 6’3″ right-hander is the “clear 1-1 talent in this draft” and he notes that he should be able to contribute in the majors this fall or at the beginning of next season. Law also references Casey’s “absurd control”. The lead prospect writer attended one of Mize’s starts back in March against Brigham Young. Law reported at the time that the right-hander showed five “distinct pitches”. It was said that he threw a fastball in the 91-96 mph range and also featured a cutter, slider, splitter and true changeup. Law also stated that his fastball, cutter and splitter are all plus pitches. He put a 70 grade on the splitter and 60 grades on the fastball and cutter, which Law called “devastating to right-handed batters”. Law also mentioned that Mize had less consistency with the slider when he saw him live and his change-up was a recent development. Keith Law thinks that developing the change-up could “really help by reducing his reliance on the splitter so often early in counts”. In summary, Law noted that Mize throws from a three-quarter arm slot and drives the ball down into the zone. While he’s suffered from forearm soreness in the past, Law optimistically stated that it never “morphed into elbow trouble”.
Note: These scouting grades are based on the projections at mlbpipeline.com
Prospect Overview and Future Outlook
College starting pitchers with the arsenal and experience of Mize usually go very high in the draft. That will likely hold true in this case as well. Casey Mize has multiple plus pitches, a good delivery and the stuff that projects him easily to the top of a big league rotation in short order. Every major draft publication has Mize listed as the sure-fire top prospect in the class and it will surprise no one if the Tigers make the obvious choice and select the Auburn right-hander with the first pick in the draft on Monday June 4th. Auburn University hasn’t had a true first-rounder since Gabe Gross got drafted in 2001 and they’ve only had four players selected in the first round in the past 30 years. Gregg Olsen and Frank Thomas were both top-10 selections in 1989 and 1990 respectively. Mize is trying to achieve another accomplishment as well. Rick Monday (1965), Dave Roberts (1972), Andy Benes (1988), Kris Benson (1996), Matt Anderson (1997) and Stephen Strasburg (2009) are the only players in MLB history to be taken with the first overall pick after being undrafted in high school. If Casey does in fact go #1 overall to the Detroit Tigers, he will be the 7th in history.
The White Sox have always been known as a “pitching organization” and the front office has talked about about adding a critical mass of high-impact talent. Amateur Scouting Director Nick Hostetler has told whichever publication that would listen that the club has about 7 names under consideration for the #4 pick. At this point, it would be a safe assumption to peg a college player to the Sox. Multiple bats should occupy space near the top of the draft class but there are a few pitchers as well. Mize looks to be the clear-cut top player in this draft and it could be a red flag if he doesn’t end up in Detroit with the first pick. On the other hand, strange things happen in the draft and it’s possible that the Tigers could pass on him and go elsewhere. At that point, the White Sox and possibly the teams in front of them would have to start debating. Ultimately, I think it’s unlikely that Casey Mize will be on the board when the White Sox make their pick in the first round. They will have an interesting decision to make though if they are afforded the opportunity. Mize has been scouted extensively by the South Siders and Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams have both seen him pitch in person this spring. I wouldn’t bet on it happening but I don’t believe the White Sox pass on Mize if given the chance.
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