Tigers take Auburn pitcher Casey Mize with first overall pick

SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) — Casey Mize went from undrafted three years ago all the way to No. 1.

The Detroit Tigers selected the Auburn right-hander with the first pick in the Major League Baseball draft Monday night. The announcement at MLB Network studios marked the second time the Tigers led off the draft, and first since they took Rice pitcher Matt Anderson in 1997.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Mize had long been linked to the Tigers, and he pitched his way this season to the top spot on the board. Mize wasn’t chosen by any organization out of high school three years ago, but developed into a potential big league ace while in college.

“It means a ton,” he said in an interview on MLB Network’s broadcast. “I’m very thankful that the Tigers thought of me enough to take me with their first selection. I can’t describe this feeling right now.”

Mize is 10-5 with a 2.95 ERA and 151 strikeouts with just 12 walks in 109 2/3 innings while helping the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament super regionals. He has solid command of four pitches, including a fastball that hovers in the mid-90s (mph). His outstanding command and wicked split changeup whip up lots of swings and misses.

Mize became the seventh player to go from undrafted in high school to the No. 1 pick, and first since Stephen Strasburg went to the Washington Nationals in 2009.

In a statement, Tigers 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.”

“Being a college pitcher — especially coming from the Southeastern Conference — we know Casey has seen elite competition before,” he added.