Casey Mize, a right-hander pitcher with impeccable control, was selected by the Detroit Tigers with the first overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft on Monday.
The Auburn University junior is 10-5 with a 2.95 ERA, 151 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 109 2/3 innings this season.
Mize said on MLB Network, “The Tigers thought of me to take me with their first selection. I can’t describe this feeling right now.”
The selection that may have rocked the draft more — and college football with it — was the Oakland Athletics using the ninth overall pick on Oklahoma outfielder Kyler Murray. A redshirt sophomore, Murray is also in line to be the Sooners’ starting quarterback this fall, taking over for Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield.
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley had said that whether Murray was drafted or not, he expects him to play football. Murray, a transfer from Texas A&M, was ranked the 36th overall prospect in the baseball draft by MLB.com and the 38th overall prospect by ESPN’s Keith Law.
Murray, who turns 21 on Aug. 7, hit .296 (56-for-189) with 46 runs, 13 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs, 47 RBIs, a .398 on-base percentage, in 51 games with Oklahoma in 2018. He played in seven football games last fall after sitting out a year as a transfer.
The Sooners were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament earlier Monday by Mississippi State.
Mize’s Auburn team is headed to the NCAA Super Regionals later this week. On Saturday, Mize threw seven innings of one-run ball against Army, striking out 11 and walking two in a 12-1 win.
“Casey is truly a special player with a phenomenal arm and impressive collegiate baseball pedigree, but perhaps most importantly has a top-level make-up,” Tigers director of amateur scouting Scott Pleis said in a statement released by the team. “We project that his arsenal will play up at the Major League level — including what we feel are four true ‘plus’ pitches.
“Casey has tremendous upside, and his tools have the potential to take his career to special places. Pitchers with his control and command are extremely rare, and we’re all excited to see him get to work and begin his career as a Tiger.”
Detroit general manager Al Avila said of Mize in a statement, “All of us in the Tigers organization are thrilled to select Casey with this pick, and are confident that he will become a pillar in our player development system that’s going to bring winning baseball to Detroit for seasons to come. Being a college pitcher — especially coming from the Southeastern Conference — we know Casey has seen elite competition before.”
It was the fourth consecutive year that the Tigers selected a right-handed pitcher with their top pick, after Beau Burrows (2015), Matt Manning (2016) and Alex Faedo (2017).
Hall of Famer John Smoltz said of Mize on MLB Network, “This guy’s a strike-thrower, and he’s got pitchability. When you think about his fastball, it’s not going to wow people at 98 miles an hour. But it’s his spin, it’s the slider, it’s the curveball and it’s this unhittable split. This guy, with his strikeout-to-walk ratio, has wowed a lot of players. He’s dominated in college, and look for him to move up in the ranks and not spend much time in the minors.”
The only previous top-15 picks out of Auburn were right-hander Gregg Olson (fourth overall by the Baltimore Orioles in 1988), Hall of Fame first baseman Frank Thomas (seventh overall by the Chicago White Sox in 1989) and outfielder Gabe Gross (15th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2001).
With the second pick, the San Francisco Giants chose Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart. Like Mize, Bart is a junior this season. He followed Jason Varitek and Matt Wieters as Georgia Tech catchers who were selected in the first round.
The Philadelphia Phillies used the third pick on Wichita State junior third baseman Alec Bohm.
With the fourth selection, the Chicago White Sox took Oregon State junior second baseman Nick Madrigal.
The Cincinnati Reds made Florida junior third baseman Jonathan India the fifth overall pick.
The New York Mets took the first high school player at No. 6, outfielder Jarred Kelenic of Waukesha West High School in Wisconsin.
The San Diego Padres selected left-handed pitcher Ryan Weathers of Loretto High School in Tennessee seventh.
The Atlanta Braves took right-hander Carter Stewart of Eau Gallie High School in Melbourne, Fla. at No. 8.
After the A’s selected Murray, the Pittsburgh Pirates rounded out the top 10 by taking junior outfielder Travis Swaggerty of South Alabama.
–Field Level Media