MLB Draft Report: Auburn RHP Casey Mize

We are 11 weeks away from the 2018 MLB Draft, but Auburn RHP Casey Mize is already making a strong case to be the best prospect on this year’s board.

When looking at Mize’s stat page what jumps out at you is his strikeout to walk ratio. Last year in his Sophomore season he put up video game numbers with 109 strikeouts to just nine walks in 83.2 innings pitched. In 328 plate appearances against Mize, batters struck out 33% of the time. Majority of his starts were in the SEC conference against some of the best hitters in the college ranks.

This year, he’s on pace to be even better.

In six starts, Mize has 63 strikeouts to just three walks in 39.2 innings pitched which comes out to a 43.8 K%. Only allowing 20 hits and nine earned runs (2.04 ERA), Mize is dominating hitters with four pitches: four-seam fastball, split-finger changeup, slider, and a new cut fastball. Watching his start from March 16th against #13-ranked Texas A&M, I came away very impressed on how Mize commands these four pitches and strikes batters out with a limited of a speed difference.

First, let’s check out this split-finger changeup which is Mize’s go-to strikeout pitch against left-handed hitters, and it is nasty. (Slow-motion video)

There is a lot of movement with this pitch. Against Texas A&M, Mize would start this pitch on the inner-half of the plate against lefties and watch the bottom drop out towards the outside corner. It looks like a fastball coming out of Mize’s hand, which is a pitch he can throw 94-95 mph but ends up being a sinker-like changeup at 88 mph. In my opinion, this is Mize’s most impressive pitch. At times, Mize does spike this pitch, but Auburn’s catchers didn’t have any issues handling it.

Mize tends to start hitters with an inside fastball that has excellent velocity to it, but it’s pretty straight. When his fastball is left over the middle of the plate is when hitters have made good contact against Mize. As I mentioned before, with a batting average of .154 against him, that doesn’t often happen for Mize.

While Mize saves his split-finger changeup for left-handed hitters, right-handers see Mize’s slider and cutter. When re-watching the game tape, it’s hard to decipher which one it is. The slider has more of a vertical drop while the cutter has late horizontal movement to it. Mize stays on the outside corner with these two pitches which could make it easy for hitters to guess what is coming at them. However, with Mize’s excellent command it forces hitters to swing at these difficult to hit pitches.

Here is the tape from Mize’s first inning against Texas A&M where he struck out the side and showcased all four of his pitches.

Yesterday against #8 Kentucky on the road, Mize had another strong performance outdueling the 2017 SEC Pitcher of the Year, Sean Hjelle.

In seven innings, allowed two earned runs on five hits while striking out 12 and walking none. Auburn lost the game in the ninth inning as the bullpen allowed three runs as the Wildcats won on a walk-off wild pitch. That prevented Mize winning his first six starts of a season as he tied former Oakland Athletic great Tim Hudson for most consecutive wins to start a season.

What teams would get from Mize is a pitcher who has command of four pitches and can pile up strikeouts while keeping walks non-existent. Some were concerned as Mize complained about forearm issues last year. In Baseball America, Mize spoke with writer Teddy Cahill about the adjustment he made with the slider to help reduce stress on his forearm.

Mize’s repertoire has evolved significantly in the last year. First, he reworked the grip of his slider, which he believes will help alleviate the forearm problems he had a year ago. He also believes the new grip has improved the pitch.

“It’s basically a new pitch from last year,” Mize said. “I’m throwing it for more strikes and I’m getting the action I want on it.”

Again, we are 11 weeks away from the MLB Draft, and there is bound to be more shuffling of players on the board. If the MLB Draft were tomorrow, I would be shocked if Mize didn’t go first overall to the Detroit Tigers. Mize upcoming probable starts include at #4 Arkansas on April 6th and at #2 Florida on April 26th. If Mize can continue his dominant ways against two of the best programs in the country, and out-pitch Brady Singer, he may leave very little doubt who is the best pitcher in this draft class.

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Josh Nelson
Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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Jer-in-Az

He sounds pretty impressive, what kind of grades is he getting from scouts. What kind of timeline might he be on, could be a nice second wave ace type. 

lil jimmy

The control you describe is 70.

PauliePaulie

Rough outing for Singer last night. Less enthusiastic recent reports on Liberatore, Gorman and Turang. Injuries to Madrigal and Hankins. After Mize, things seem wide open right now.

WestEddy

Slightly off topic, does Northwestern have anybody worth paying attention to? They’re playing day baseball now, and I can’t really find anything detailing how their team or players look on a national level. Thanks.

lil jimmy

My guess, a healthy Casey Mize is a top 3 pick. Polished stud college pitcher should be number one are their priority lists.

Steve Gordon

Mize has seperated himself from the pack and unlikely to fall to #4. Will be interesting to see how Hankins reacts from shoulder soreness as he might be interesting. McClanahan finally gave up some runs yesterday vs. Conn.  Singer has lost some luster. Gilbert (Stetson) still dealing. Rolison still solid. Liberatore hasn’t been overly impressive. Still time to jockey for position. 

MrTopaz

Great analysis, as always. Also, is it just me, or is his delivery from the stretch in that second video kind of odd? Maybe I’m just used to seeing guys from the centerfield camera, but it struck me as very strange.

MrTopaz

That “all arm action” delivery doesn’t seem like it’s a good harbinger for him long term. It’s not the sort of thing I usually pay attention to, but can you think of any pros that have that kind of odd delivery from the stretch?

MrStealYoBase

If I’m the White Sox, I take the best pitcher available at #4. As tempting as it is to try and take a position guy, the scouting staff has shown a complete inability to identify and develop talent on that front. (With the exception of maybe Tim Anderson but he’s a far cry from a superstar at this point)

I would play to the strengths of the player development and stock up on pitchers. From there they can cherry pick the best 12 for their staff on the cheap and then use the rest to build out the position player core through trades. (And free agency)