Casey Mize to make highly-touted Tigers debut on Wednesday

The Tigers are calling up three top prospects, including former No. 1 pick Casey Mize.

Casey Mize has been destined for a highly-anticipated Major League debut ever since his electric first outing at Double-A in 2019. That wait is finally coming to an end.

The Detroit Tigers are calling up their right-handed pitching prospect to make his first big league start on Wednesday in Chicago against the White Sox. The Tigers also announced on Monday they’re bringing up two more of their top prospects, left-handed pitcher Tarik Skubal and infielder Isaac Paredes.

But it’s Mize who the Tigers have been waiting to see compete against Major League hitters ever since he was drafted No. 1 overall out of Auburn in 2018.

Mize reached Double-A Erie last season, his first full year of professional baseball. He made an immediate impact, throwing a no-hitter in his first start against Altoona. In his first nine starts for Erie, Mize went 6-0 with a 1.21 ERA. Only once did he give up more than two earned runs in a start while striking out 50 batters in 52 innings.

Mize was shut down for a month following his start on June 13 with right shoulder discomfort, and while he eventually returned to the lineup in July he was never able to replicate that success. In his final six starts, Mize went 0-3 with a 7.09 ERA, while his walk rate went up from 1.9 per nine innings to 2.4. The Tigers shut him down for the season in August.

Mize looked back to his old self during Spring Training in 2020, even out-pitching Gerrit Cole of the Yankees in a start on March 5. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the eighth-best prospect in baseball and second in the Tigers organization behind 2020 first-overall pick Spencer Torkelson.

Mike throws a mid-90s fastball from a three-quarters delivery that tends to run in on right-handers. His splitter is his main out pitch. He’s able to command it to both sides of the plate as it fades away from left-handers and into the hands of righties. He’s also working on adding a slider to his repertoire that can reach 90 mph and breaks in the opposite direction as his splitter.

Skubal, the Tigers’ ninth-round pick out of Seattle University in 2018, features a 93-95 mph fastball and a slider that runs in on right-handers. He struck out 82 batters in 42.1 innings at Double-A in 2019 and had a 2.76 ERA in nine starts. He finished the season ranked third in the Minors in strikeouts (179) and strikeouts per nine innings (17.4) while leading all pitchers who threw at least 120 innings in inducing swinging strikes.

Skubal will get the start on Tuesday against the White Sox. He and Mize will be joining a Tigers rotation in desperate need of some relief. The Tigers starting pitchers rank 26 in the Majors with a 5.53 ERA so far this season. Spencer Turnbull is the only Tigers starter to last past the sixth inning in their first 19 games.

The Tigers are 9-10 and in fourth place in the AL Central. With the expanded postseason, the club is only 2.5 games out of a Wild Card spot. Mize can get eight starts the rest of the season and be a leading contender for Rookie of the Year if he pitches like he’s capable of. And, because of rookie eligibility rules, he’ll still be able to win the award next season.

The Tigers are counting on him to be in the conversation at the end of the year.

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