From the moment the Detroit Tigers selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s MLB draft, the biggest question surrounding righthander Casey Mize was simply “how fast will he reach the majors?” Some argued that Mize was already one of the five or six best pitchers in the organization the moment he signed his contract, and many scouts thought he was polished enough to hold his own at the big league level right away.
There is certainly some benefit to him getting time in the minor leagues, though, and no one was surprised when he was assigned to the minors midway through spring training.
Since then, however, Mize has done nothing but toy with minor league hitters. He dominated his competition in four starts at High-A Lakeland, and famously threw a no-hitter in his first start at Double-A Erie. Even after a pair of “down” starts for the SeaWolves, Mize has a 1.24 ERA in 50 2⁄3 innings on the year. He has logged 48 strikeouts to just five walks, and is now MLB Pipeline’s No. 6 prospect in all of baseball.
It’s Question of the Day time:
Should Casey Mize pitch in the majors in 2019?
My answer: Yes. It could have happened potentially as early as Wednesday, with the Tigers needing a starter on Mize’s regular turn through the rotation, or last weekend, when a one-day doubleheader call-up would have been a perfect taste of the big leagues for Detroit’s top prospect. Justin Verlander got a pair of starts with the Tigers the season after he was drafted (2005), and while we can’t say for certain, they likely served as a good learning experience for him heading into his rookie season and beyond.
The “risk,” if you want to call it that, is that Mize comes up and is too good to send back down. That’s far from a problem in my eyes, though, as I think that any concerns about most players’ service time are largely overblown. Even if he is not called up this season, Mize could very well make the team out of spring training in 2020 and still reach free agency after the 2025 season — and that’s only if the current service time and free agency structure isn’t altered in the next MLB collective bargaining agreement.
That said, I’m not going to be bent out of shape if Mize doesn’t get called up. He seems to be working on a few different aspects of his game right now, including his fastball command and the slider/cutter-type pitch he started throwing more often last year. Simply getting him onto a five-day schedule at the pro level is an adjustment in itself — starters pitch once per week in college — and he will probably see a healthy jump in innings even as a minor leaguer. There is also a bit of a 40-man roster crunch coming next offseason, and calling up Mize early only makes it more congested.
What do you think?
Note: We’re stealing an idea from our friends at Pride of Detroit. Every day, we will post an open-ended question, along with a quick answer, to spark discussion about the Tigers (or other stuff, who knows where this goes?). Use this thread to answer that question, or talk about other stuff — the Tigers, baseball in general, or anything else on your mind.