The Detroit Tigers have selected right-handed pitcher Casey Mize with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft. Mize, a 21-year-old junior from Auburn, is widely considered the best prospect in the 2018 draft class.
For those that have followed the current draft cycle, this pick comes as no surprise. Mize quickly established himself as the top prospect in the class with a dominant spring, and his status has not wavered over the last few weeks leading up to the draft. He currently has a 2.95 ERA in 109 2⁄3 innings this season, and has struck out 151 batters to just 12 walks.
That sparkling strikeout-to-walk ratio underlines the best qualities of Mize’s profile. He has a quality four-pitch mix, led by a splitter that has warranted double-plus (70) grades from many outlets. The splitter — more of a split-change, as identified by Katie Strang of The Athletic — sits in the mid-80s with sharp movement, and is Mize’s put-away pitch. He also sports a plus fastball that sits anywhere from 92-95 miles per hour. He also throws a slider and cutter, both of which have been graded as above-average or plus pitches at times. Mize commands all four pitches well, something we noted in a deep dive earlier this spring.
While the arsenal is clearly worthy of a first round selection, Mize’s best attribute might be his plus control. He can spot the fastball despite plenty of movement on the pitch, and is able to keep his secondaries away from trouble spots in the strike zone. He misses at times...but it’s hard to argue with his jaw-dropping numbers. Most college pitchers have locating even their best secondary pitch at times; that Mize is able to pound the zone with three different off-speed pitches speaks to how refined a prospect he is already.
The top overall pick has a slot value of $8,096,300. While Mize is sure to ask for the entirety of that for his signing bonus, the No. 1 pick has never come within $1 million of their full slot value in the current draft bonus system. Mize will likely set a signing bonus record (in the current system), but could still leave the Tigers with $500,000 or more in bonus pool money to allocate elsewhere in the draft.
Mize’s contract will have to wait, though. After upsetting N.C. State in last weekend’s regionals, Mize’s Auburn Tigers will play in the NCAA Super Regionals, where they will likely face the top-ranked Florida Gators and fellow top draft prospect Brady Singer. Though Mize out-pitched Singer in a matchup of the two college aces earlier this spring, Singer’s Gators came out on top. The Gators are absolutely loaded from top to bottom as well, with three probable first round picks and a number of other blue-chip recruits on their roster.
When he does sign, Auburn’s ace will join a quartet of young pitchers atop Detroit’s prospect ranks, and should be the team’s top prospect heading into 2019. Though his ceiling is somewhat limited by a good-not-great fastball, he is already the most advanced and polished of Detroit’s pitching prospects, and should move very quickly through the minor leagues.
If you want to learn more about Mize, check out the draft profile we penned on the Tigers’ newest prospect earlier this spring.