Tigers select Auburn pitcher Casey Mize first overall in MLB Draft

Posted at 7:11 PM, Jun 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-05 10:43:06-04

All that Auburn pitcher Casey Mize needs to do now is change his Tigers stripes.

And then lead Detroit out of the American League doldrums.

The rebuilding Tigers selected Mize with the top pick Monday night in a Major League Baseball draft that included an eye-opening surprise when Oakland chose Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray at No. 9 overall.

Mize went from undrafted out of high school three years ago all the way to No. 1.

"It means a ton," he said in an interview on the MLB Network broadcast. "I can't describe this feeling right now."

After striking it rich, hard to blame him. The signing-bonus slot value for this year's first pick is a cool $8.1 million.

Mize has pitched the Auburn Tigers into the NCAA Tournament super regionals, going 10-5 with a 2.95 ERA and 151 strikeouts against only 12 walks in 109 2/3 innings this season. The polished right-hander features outstanding command of four pitches, including a mid-90s (mph) fastball and a wicked changeup that he throws with a split-finger grip.

The only other time the Tigers had the top pick in the draft was 1997, when they selected Rice pitcher Matt Anderson. He compiled a 5.19 ERA in 257 career relief appearances.

Detroit is hoping Mize impacts the franchise more like longtime ace Justin Verlander, who helped the Tigers win two pennants and four AL Central titles after they grabbed him at No. 2 overall in 2004.

Verlander was traded to World Series champion Houston last season as Detroit sought promising prospects for the future. After fading badly down the stretch, the Tigers finished tied with San Francisco for the worst record in the majors at 64-98.

The silver lining was the opportunity to add Mize.

In a statement, Detroit general manager Al Avila said the club is confident Mize "will become a pillar in our player development system that's going to bring winning baseball to Detroit for seasons to come."

With the second pick, the Giants took slugging Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart, the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year. Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm was the first player in attendance at MLB Network Studios to be drafted, going third overall to Philadelphia.

Oregon State second baseman Nick Madrigal — at 5-foot-7, 160 pounds — went fourth to the Chicago White Sox. Florida third baseman Jonathan India was selected fifth by Cincinnati.

The last of the six players on site to be picked was Florida prep shortstop Xavier Edwards, who went 38th overall to San Diego.

The draft resumes with rounds 3-10 on Tuesday and concludes with rounds 11-40 on Wednesday.

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