The 3rd Man In

Casey Mize has ‘really grown’ in his two years at Auburn

Casey Mize

Casey Mize was an under the radar recruit coming out of Springville (Ala.) High School in 2015.

He wasn’t selected in the 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Instead, he followed through with his commitment to Auburn, where he’s developed into one of the top collegiate pitchers over the last two years.

With the 2018 MLB Draft about seven months away, Baseball America ranks the 6-foot-3, 208-pound right-handed pitcher as the fourth-best college draft prospect.

“I haven’t really thought of the draft,” Mize said. “I’m just focused on the season and helping my team get to Omaha. That time will come. I’m just focused on the team.”

Mize had the makeup and a 92 mph fastball to make him an intriguing project for a major league team coming out of high school. But Mize wasn’t a complete pitcher and had room to grow, he said.

“Coming out of high school, I had talent but was more of a thrower,” he said. “I’ve really grown into the mental side of pitching.”

Mize devoted time to the weight room since arriving at Auburn in fall 2015. Since stepping foot on campus, Mize has added about 45 pounds to his frame, including 15 pounds since the end of the 2017 season.

Mize has a four-pitch mix, featuring a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, split-changeup and a slider. He locates his mid-90s fastballs well and uses both in different situations, depending on if he’s ahead in the count and if the batter is right-handed or left-handed.

The split-changeup is Mize’s best offering and put away pitch. It has drastically improved over the last year-and-a-half, he said. Mize is comfortable throwing his slider in any situation, but prefers to use it to keep hitters off balanced.

“The biggest strength is that I’ve learned to command the baseball,” Mize said. “I think pitching starts with command. It doesn’t matter if you throw 100 mph or 80. If you can command the baseball, you’re going to be successful.

“I finally swallowed my pride of throwing the ball as hard as I can and figured that out. It’s really been working for me. I’ve done a lot of drills to repeat my delivery well.”

Mize went 8-2 with a 2.04 ERA, 109 strikeouts and just nine walks allowed, while opposing hitters hit .210 off him in 83 2/3 innings last season.

He missed about a week of action as a sophomore last season due to arm fatigue with Auburn. Mize played with the Team USA Collegiate National team this past summer, but also dealt with arm fatigue.

Despite dealing with arm fatigue twice, Mize said the problem is behind him and he’s just focused on helping Auburn win as many games as possible this season.

“We have a program set up for me,” he said. “I started throwing a couple of weeks ago, and we’re going to roll through to the season. I feel really good. I’ve been doing a lot of strengthening stuff and just getting my body where it needs to be. My arm feels really good going into the season.”

Find more 2018 MLB Draft profiles here

READ: 2017 MLB Draft: Profiles on top prospects

READ: The3rdManIn.com’s MLB Draft prospect history

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